Archive for February, 2012

The Soetaert firing

Posted: February 2, 2012 in Hockey

Wow.  So just like that, Doug Soetaert is out.  The Everett Silvertips announced this evening that their long tenured General Manager has been relieved of his duties.  Minus the 2005-06 season when he was the American Hockey League GM in the Calgary Flames organization, Soetaert has been with the team since its first baby steps as an expansion franchise in 2003-04.  He’s been there for all of the ups; he’s been there for all of the downs.  Unfortunately, it’s the current “down” that spelled the end.

With the way this season has played out for the Tips (currently last place in the league, yet just a handful of points out of a playoff spot) it has been almost a guarantee that big changes were coming in the offseason.  Which is kind of ironic since the team chose to go a rebuilding route this season.  I mean seriously.  You’re going to turn up the hot seat on personnel in the midst of a bad season when the team knew full well that these results were a very possible outcome?  That’s a whole other discussion though I suppose.  Either way, it was felt that Doug’s days were winding down given both circumstance and the fact that his contract was expiring.

One thing that I can say for sure is that the arena is going to feel odd without him around.  It’s hard to imagine this team without Doug, but I have to start trying to.  No, I no longer work for the team but I still feel shock and a sense of loss.  Some of my most vivid memories from working the press box on game nights came as result of Mr. Soetaert.  His occasional commentary from his seat in the front row could be quite colorful to say the least.  Sometimes, people didn’t know what to think.  Such was the night things weren’t going the Tips’ way and Doug got into a very heated verbal spat with the Western Hockey League representative who was on hand.  I would say they were nose-to-nose, but the league official was giving up nearly a foot – all this happening literally mere inches beside where I was writing.  Yes, I had the thoughts of “should I be diving for cover under the table” running through my head for a brief moment.

Keep in mind, however, that was one incident.  Doug was always very gracious.  I continuously regret the manner in which I stopped working for the team but, on the night that I made my decision, he approached me before the game and thanked me for my efforts prior to that point.  He complimented me on my work and wished me luck on my future.  In the two seasons since then I was very fortunate enough to get asked back for a couple of one-off games.  Both times Doug took a few moments to welcome me back (albeit for just the one night) and made it a point to ask how I had been and thanked me for continuing to support the team as a season ticket holder.

I can only hope that there’s a team out there who is about to get very lucky.  Doug Soetaert is still a top notch front office asset to a team.  It’s very sad to see things end the way that they did for him here in Everett.  You always hope that it could end a bit more ceremoniously for a guy who deserved nothing less.  There’s no way to describe how big he was to the organization.

I can only imagine how empty the press box is going to feel.

-JRD