Athletics president Maurice Trudeau (shown here) is one of three A’s board members stepping down at the end of the NPHL playoffs. Vice President Josh Purchase will stay on for next year as club looks to fill vacated board spots.
Gordon Anderson / Daily Herald Tribune
Whenever the North Peace Hockey League (NPHL) playoff season is over, Grande Prairie Athletics President Maurice Trudeau is officially stepping down from his post with the local entry in the NPHL.“It’s a huge commitment, as I spend, easily, 30 to 50 hours per week running this team,” Trudeau said. “I know it’s an NPHL team but I like to think we run it like a professional team. Everything is there for the [players], from the pre-game meals to snacks in the dressing room. There’s lots of good things happening.”The announcement could also put up a question mark into the future of the Athletics hockey club.While it’s certainly not intentional, Trudeau’s decision to leave could put the franchise in a problematic position, as Athletics board member Tim Sheehan and his wife Shelly — the Athletics Treasurer — are also planning to step away at the end of the playoffs.“[Tim and Shelly] sat down with me and they said ‘if you’re not coming back, then we’re done also,’” Trudeau said. “That was, more or less, the end of the conversation.”Trudeau is the owner of a local business called MT Actions Photography and his commitment to a winning on-ice product, well, something has to be the casualty for the time and energy he puts into it on behalf of the club.“There’s no thought of coming back as my business suffers, big time,” Trudeau said. “If there’s a way I can help out a little, by doing things on the side like the program, but it will be on a contract basis or something like that.”The trio of moves will leave Athletics current Vice President Josh Purchase as the sole person remaining on the board when the season ends.“It would be tough to put Purchase into that situation,” Trudeau said. “Normally, the vice president is trained up a little bit to step in and look after things and become president. With Tim and Shelly, who are a big part of our board, with them stepping down, it wouldn’t be fair to Purchase. It would be extremely tough to look after everything and try to fill those [vacant] positions.”But it certainly doesn’t sound like Purchase is going anywhere, when asked what his plans are going forward.“Next year, I will be involved because senior hockey is pretty important and I think we should, at least, try to keep things going in Grande Prairie and come back with a healthy club for next year,” Purchase said. “Right now, we’re deep into a playoff run and it’s been exciting.”Trudeau noted the team will need to replace the three vacating seats with the same amount of people, if not more.“I’m sure it can be done but it wouldn’t happen overnight,” Trudeau said. “[There has to be a] minimum [of three people hired] because the four of us that currently are [here] are doing the work of seven people.”In other words, there are going to be three vacancies up for grabs, maybe more, when the season ends and the trio officially part company with the club.The workload is pretty extensive and it would take quite a [number] of people to put it together,” Purchase added. “As for board members, we’re looking to add more.”According to Trudeau, a similar situation happened to the Spirit River Rangers before they announced a one-year hiatus prior to the start of the 2017 season. The Rangers still haven’t returned to the NPHL.“It could be a big issue and it could be the decision if there’s a team or there isn’t a team,” Trudeau said. “That’s exactly what happened in Spirit River. [Rangers general manager Mel] Vollman didn’t get the support he needed from the board to run his team. He had lots of players wanting to play but he had nobody to help him and that’s why he said ‘that’s it, we’re done.’”However, Purchase sees this situation as an opportunity.“I’m excited about next year. [Those three are leaving] but they are going to be around to lean on [for input],” Purchase said. “I walked into this year saying ‘I don’t really want to have that much responsibility’ but I jumped in feet first and [have taken on more responsibility] than last year.”The vice president believes in the importance of the Athletics to the community and he doesn’t want to break the trust.“Honestly, I don’t see myself walking away from [the job],” Purchase said. “I enjoy it and I think it’s important to have senior hockey in Grande Prairie. We’re going to be looking to fill some positions and, hopefully, delegate a little more work, and make it as exciting as this year.”