Only five games into a new Western Hockey League season, Dean Brockman has stepped down as Head Coach and General Manager of the Swift Current Broncos.
Assistant Coach Devan Praught has been named Interim Head Coach and Assistant General Manager Chad Leslie has been named the Interim General Manager.
Brockman took over the Broncos for the 2018-19 season, one season after they won the WHL Championship.
“I want to reiterate this was my decision. It’s a personal decision on my behalf,” said Brockman at Thursday’s media conference. “It had nothing to do with the Board of Directors. In fact, the Board of Directors have supported me from day one. They took a chance and that chance was me.”
The Broncos were out to a 2-3-0-0 start to the season with a young roster.
“The timing, to do it at this particular time was important for me. Why is it important for me? You never want to leave when you’re losing. You never want to leave when you’re winning. This team is on a trajectory that is going to be successful year after year after year. The people that are in place are more than capable of handling this organization to its fullest. We’d love to see more fans in the building because I think that people that work day in and day out for this organization, they go to Governors meetings, they have public meetings, they have everything going on their plate, but yet they take the time to put the Broncos in their heart, much like I did. I want to leave a piece of that with everyone. I want to thank everyone for every opportunity that was given to me,” said an emotional Brockman.
Brockman was asked directly why he was stepping down.
“Just when you know you know,” he replied. “I don’t have any one particular reason why. I guess I feel really comfortable leaving on these terms because of the fact that I can do it on my terms and not someone else’s terms. I think, for me, I believe in everyone in the organization. I feel that you know what they can move forward without me. There’s not any one particular reason. It’s just I feel that it’s important for me to kind of get out of the way, let these good people work, and I’ll support them in any way I can. There could be 1,000s of reasons, but it’s just me. It’s about me this time and not about anyone else.”
Broncos Governor Liam Choo-Foo pointed out that the Broncos had dealt away much of their player and draft capital leading up to the 2018 WHL championship under Manny Viveiros.
“The two years preceding Dean coming to us saw this organization deal way the equivalent of six first round picks, four second round picks, and three third round picks,” noted Choo-Foo.
“Needless to say, it was a huge challenge and the Board were looking for someone with a vision and a plan and the intestinal fortitude to stick to that plan in a rebuild that was going to be extremely difficult especially during the first couple years where there just wasn’t enough assets left in the tank to ice the type of team we wanted to see.”
“But we got Dean and he sold us on a plan for rebuilding the organization in a way that would be long term and sustainable and bring us back to a level that we expect to be at year in and year out without having to sell the farm in the future and go for a run. And he’s done an outstanding job in that respect. We’ve restocked with exciting prospects and we have draft capital like we’ve never had before,” said Choo-Foo, who added that Brockman’s first draft class, headlined by Mathew Ward, recently brought 35 scouts to the rink on a Tuesday night.
“We believe that Dean has done an outstanding job getting us back to the place we need to be,” Choo-Foo added. He also noted that the Broncos hold five picks in the first two and a quarter rounds in the upcoming WHL Prospects Draft of 2006-born players.
Brockman was forced to balance a long-term rebuild with the inherent pressure of putting a winning product on the ice.
“For me personally it was about how to restore what the Swift Current Broncos means and I think when you know the people or get to know the people around you and you know the community and what has been successful, I was fortunate enough to get to playoff games that year of the run and just saw the excitement, you kind of felt obligated to do as much as you could possible to make sure that this team got to that point,” said Brockman.
“In our community in Swift Current you have to have that ability to do your job. That’s where the Board was very willing to let me do my job. Yes, did they question me? For sure because that’s what everyone should do. But I think the balance was we knew what the priority was. We knew we had to have draft capital. We knew we had to look after young men that maybe weren’t capable of being in the Western hockey League at times. The balancing act is just be human and be honest. Just be honest with where you’re at with the situation… It was a great balancing act. I think maybe that’s a little bit of why today is the day because I feel that going forward there won’t be that balancing act. I think this community deserves a hockey team that is going to be competitive year after year after year and I certainly don’t want to get in the way of that. I think the foundation is there, the people are there, it’s exciting. The balancing part of it, you just do what you have to do.”