Dan Herbranson has gone from zebra wrangler to the top job in Ridge Meadows Minor Hockey.
The referee in chief of the past six years was named the association’s president at the annual general meeting on Tuesday night.
He replaces outgoing president Mike Walls, whom he beat in an election. Walls spent the last part of his mandate caught in the middle of a controversial debate over whether the association should hire a full-time director of hockey operations, as neighbouring associations have done.
That will be one of two big issues Herbranson must get his arms around early in his new post.
“There’s definitely an interest in pursuing the doho,” he said.
The executive has been tasked with continuing to explore the issue. A committee will put a proposal before the executive, and the issue will be resolved soon. If a full-time doho is hired, he would be on the job no later than July. His key responsibilities would be the selection and training of coaches, and the development of players.
“I want to have a real good feel for how the majority feel about it,” he said. “I’m hazarding to guess that at least 50 per cent will be in favour of the proposal.
Personally, he remains skeptical.
“I’m really 50-50 on it,” he said. “I’m not 100 per cent convinced this is going to improve our association to the tune of whatever this is going to cost.”
He acknowledges the association is in fine financial shape, with a surplus in the bank, but adds “if you don’t watch the money carefully, you won’t have that.”
Another key issue will be the association’s constitution, which dates back to 1991 and has been patched together with several amendments. He wants to see it updated.
“You’ve got rules and regulations and guidelines to go by as a board,” he said. He wants the constitution to reflect the philosophy that executive must always be guided by the principle “What’s in the best interests of the players.”
He wanted to be clear that he sees the association as being in good shape. The executive has a good foundation to build on.
“I want to be clear – our association is not broken,” he said. “Our mandate is to get kids on the ice and get them playing hockey, and we do that.”
He noted that the association has 1,000 players active, and there are four alumni playing in the NHL.
“We’ve had some fabulous, fabulous hockey players come through our association.”
Herbranson noted that there were between 230 and 240 people at the annual general meeting.
“To have that many parents come out on a Tuesday night is a healthy sign.”
Herbranson was a coach in the association for 18 seasons, at virtually every level, but has been out of that role for the past four or five years.
He said he will continue to be available as a referee.