Having the dual role of general manager and head coach with a hockey team was not new for Dan Price when he took on both roles with the Victoria Royals.
But what is new, and not just for him, is trying to operate a team through a pandemic. In the Spring of 2021, the Royals called Kelowna home, as the B.C. division teams played a 22-game hub season in the Okanagan city and Kamloops.
“The covid bubble was a first obviously, we were all fairly new to that, throughout the league, even the tenured GMs were very new to that,” said Price, now in his fifth season as Head Coach with the Royals, and second as GM.
“And certainly our staff was, all having to be reconfigured for the first time in our first season being that very unique covid hub season.”
Price joined the team in 2016 as an assistant coach when Dave Lowry was the club’s bench boss. A year later was promoted to Head Coach. Shortly after the 2019-20 campaign was cancelled due to COVID-19, the Royals were ready for another change.
In May 2020, the club announced Price would take on general manager’s role after Cam Hope’s departure following after eight seasons with the WHL club.
“I do remember that and it was an interesting discussion to have. It was not something I ever turned my mind to, to be honest,” said Price, reminiscing on how his discussions began with the Royals to take over the GM job.
“I was always really more focussed on the coaching side. And just as the discussions went on over the course of (the) Spring, that opening was open for a little as Cam transitioned out.”
In his office located on the concourse at the arena, between the Royals’ dressing room and the ice, Price is juggling the day-to-day jobs of building the team as heneral manager, and strategizing for wins as head coach.
“As far as how you allocate your time, what your priorities are, focussing on the long-term planning as much, or even more than the short-term planning of just winning games day-to-day and week-to-week. So it’s definitely a balance.”
And even though some COVID restrictions and rules apply, Price says getting back to a new normal this season, with less limitations, has been important for everyone.
“It’s been great for team cohesion, from the players’ perspective, from a staff perspective, and as between the players and staff as well, because we can interact with them more.”