When Colin Priestner and his father—former WHL goalie Mike Priestner—purchased the Saskatoon Blades in 2013 they knew they had a big challenge ahead. Though both were experienced in sports and management, they were inheriting an organization in transition.
“It was like cleaning up after a big storm,” Priestner recalls. “They had just hosted the Memorial Cup, so they had made a lot of short term moves to try to win the tournament… so the cupboards were a little bit bare. We had to work hard rebuilding the hockey team and regenerating interest in the community.”
All eyes were on the new management as they launched into the 2013-14 season. A former varsity tennis prodigy, VP Sales for Jaguar Edmonton and off-and-on recording and touring musician, Priestner isn’t your traditional managing partner of a professional hockey franchise.
That’s okay with Priestner: while he respects tradition, he considers himself part of a newer breed of hockey professional. That career diversity, he says, “makes me who I am.”
Being able to bring a different, creative approach to business is one of his strengths. At the same time, he acknowledges that he sometimes neglects the details in search of the bigger picture—something he intends to improve on, as he works towards his Certified Hockey Professional designation with the Business of Hockey Institute.
“I think people manage their businesses as an extension of themselves,” he says. “For me, it’s always going to be a positive culture that’s really fun, looking outside the box and trying to find an edge. Those are my strengths but I also know I have a lack of detail orientation, and I’m not adept at accounting or the financial side.”
As managing partner with the Blades, Priestner maintains a pretty busy work and travel schedule but he’s not worried about the academic workload. “The way it’s structured really makes it possible, even while working a full time job,” he says. “I spend a lot of time on the road with the team. So instead of watching a movie or a game tape for the third time, I can get in some studying.”
With the right tweaks to the Blades, and the extra edge from the CHP, Priestner hopes to fill the Blades’ cupboards again before long.