The Western Hockey League (WHL) Commissioner is retiring and has decided to take a farewell tour to see some of the teams he managed over his 24-season tenure, including the Swift Current Broncos.
Commissioner Ron Robison has been in his position for a long time and has seen and been a part of many changes in the WHL. Friday night’s Swift Current Broncos game brought the Commissioner out on the ice for a ceremonial pre-game puck drop.
Ron Robison was hosted by the Broncos at the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame before the game.
“Swift Current is the smallest market in the Western Hockey League but to me, one of the most special markets because it represents such a tremendous history of success,” explained Robison. “It's a small-town atmosphere in some ways but when you look at the passion of our fans, the interest that everyone has in this community, the Broncos are such a big part of the community and have been for so many years. You really feel that enthusiasm and that commitment to keep the team successful in this location.”
Robison took over the commissioner title from Dev Dley in 2000 and has introduced British Columbia’s new team, as well as the sale of the Tri-City Americans. He also helped to form a partnership with the Canada West Universities Athletic Association to add new scholarship programs for players in the WHL.
“Support has been just incredible from the volunteers on the board to the season ticket holders to the volunteers that make these games happen,” said Robison. “It's a special place, and all of us in the Western Hockey League have a great respect for the Broncos organization. The City deserves a tremendous amount of credit; they put the capital improvements necessary into the building to make sure it met the standards for the league, which is really important not only from a fan perspective but for us as well.”
Robison also ushered in the new era of broadcasting, with the webcast of WHL games from Netcasting Systems Incorporated beginning in the 2005-06 season.
When asked about his most memorable moment in Swift Current, Robison stated:
“I think back to the changes we wanted to make in facility standards. At the time, Ben (Wiebe) was the governor of the team and I remember how he felt this was going to be a major challenge. But in typical swift current fashion, this community found a way. The Broncos came together and made sure that the facility would meet our standards and requirements moving forward, and as a result, you have a tremendous facility here in the iPlex.”
Robison also notes the hard times through which this community has rallied. He mentioned the fatal bus crash as well as the Graham James controversy, which both shocked the hockey world.