Halifax Mooseheads owner on ‘unacceptable’ playoff exit, Jordan Dumais suspension – Halifax

In the wake of an uninspiring conclusion to the Halifax Mooseheads’ post-season campaign, the team’s ownership group says they are already thinking about next season.

Peter Simon, president of Simon Sports, was interviewed by  Global News on Wednesday afternoon to reflect on his first year co-owning the Halifax club with his father, Sam. He shared his disappointment regarding the Mooseheads being on the receiving end of a first-round playoff sweep courtesy of the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, his plans to rebuild in the off-season, along with providing a message to the team’s loyal fanbase.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Global News: How disappointed were you in this year’s playoff run?

Simon: I don’t have enough words to express the disappointment. It was shocking. I know we were down a few key players (like) Jordan Dumais and Jake Furlong but it’s truthfully unacceptable. It’s one way to lose but another way to go out the way we did, as well. I feel for our fans, I feel for everybody in Halifax.

We all take responsibility. The players do (take responsibility), the staff does, and my father and I (as) the owners ultimately take responsibility as well. Very disappointing to say the least, truthfully gut-wrenching and unacceptable.

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Global News: What do you think went wrong heading into the playoffs? Do you anticipate any changes to the front office and coaching staff ahead of next season?

Simon: We’re currently going through a comprehensive assessment. Since we lost last week, we took a few days … this whole entire week has been a time for us to really reflect and think about stuff that went wrong this past year, how we’re going to get better, and what the next steps look like for next season and beyond.

We’re taking this week to do an assessment of what went wrong and how we can correct that in the future. We’re doing everything in our power to get better. We’re all in to turn this thing around and this team is something all the fans can be proud of. In terms of staff, next week we’ll have clarity on what our direction is going to be and how we’re going to go forward.

I felt like our consistency this entire year wasn’t where we wanted it to be. Throughout the whole year, we struggled to find consistency. Regardless of who was in the lineup, regardless of the team that we had, we had enough to do better than what we did in the playoffs. Truthfully, I think consistency was a huge issue for this for us this entire year.

Halifax, Nova Scotia – Mar 08:Owen Phillips #26 of the Halifax Mooseheads and Noah Laberge #8 of the Bathurst Titan during the QMJHL game between the Halifax Mooseheads and Acadie-Bathurst Titan on March 8 2024 at the Scotiabank Center in Halifax, Nova Scotia. (Trevor MacMillan/Halifax Mooseheads).

Trevor MacMillan/Halifax Mooseheads

Global News: You mentioned how injuries and inconsistency was a factor, how much do you think the Jordan Dumais injury and off-ice incident impacted the team? What involvement did you have in his suspension?

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Simon: The tricky situation, of course, with Jordan is you want to do two things. You want to make sure you do the right thing as an organization from a disciplinary standpoint and make sure you have communication with the league. But at the same time, you want to respect the players’ privacy because you want to make sure he gets the support he needs. It was a very tough time for him, as well.

These kids have a lot of pressure on them. The worst thing we wanted to do is really balloon the situation and put even more pressure and emotional stress on him. There was a ton of stuff that was put out there and (we thought) maybe it was better to get ahead of it and announce it via social media.

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From the player standpoint, Jordan was the MVP of the league last year. He’s an extraordinary player and we miss him a lot. When you have the ability to have that player on the ice and to really make a difference, it not just affects your play on the ice but also the players thoughts’ of ‘Man, we really want Jordan back’ so yes, it has an impact.

It was unacceptable how we went out of the playoffs. It was the worst outcome we could’ve imagined and really an eyeopener for my dad and I in our first year of ownership … regardless of who we have on the ice, we’ve got to compete and put on a show for our fans.

Click to play video: 'Halifax Mooseheads player facing impaired driving charge'

Halifax Mooseheads player facing impaired driving charge

Global News: Should fans expect a rebuild next season or are you aiming to remain competitive?

Simon: I can’t give you a firm answer on that right now. We want to have a competitive team, but we also understand there’s a difference between a rebuild in certain markets versus other markets. If we’re going to go through a process like that, we can still have a competitive team that fans are excited about. Whether that’s 16 or 17-year-olds that have a bright future and will win some games, lose some games, but it’s competitive on the ice and there’s a good product, that’s different than a team getting blown out every game.

We want to make sure that if we are going to go through a period where we have a younger team … that the product is still going to be good on the ice even if we’re not winning as many games as we’ve been winning in the last years.

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Global News: Moving things off-ice, what would you like to see change in terms of fan experience for next year?

Simon: We have two big fan experience editions that are coming for next season. These are material things that I think will be exciting in the arena.

We’re constantly innovating and going about the process of how we increase the fan experience and update that. We want to do a good job of it being more than just coming to a Mooseheads game to see a hockey team, it’s really an experience for our fans. From the lighting to the entrance to the intermissions, to the stoppages in timeouts.

Actually, it’s being announced today that Brad Cuzner, who’s a former alumni of the Mooseheads, is coming to be the business development manager. We’ve never had a business development manager. To create good community connections, group sales, and different aspects of the business. He just got finished working for the Vancouver Canucks, so he has a lot of experience.

Global News: Is the Scotiabank Centre continuing to fulfill the team’s needs or are you looking at a new arena for the future?

Simon: We work very closely with them. They’ve been doing an excellent job working with us. Some of the fan experience additions and initiatives we’ve undertaken, they’ve been very key in that because we need their collaboration, and we need to be able to work with them on that. We’ve been very happy with the Scotiabank Centre and Events East and look forward to growing that partnership.

Global News: What’s your message to fans who are frustrated with this year’s playoff run?

Simon: Moose Country, I really feel your guys’ disappointment. I wear it hard. We’re going to do everything in our power to get better.

I promise you’ll have our commitment to get better and we’ll do everything in our power to make sure we get there. You truly are the best fans in the league. There is nothing more that my father and I want, and there’s nothing more than that the staff and players want than to win for you guys and be able to put out a good product.

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There’s no sugarcoating it. We’re all responsible for it. Everybody that works for the Mooseheads, everybody that’s a part of it, and everybody that had a hand in what happened this season, including myself and my dad, we all take responsibility.

Global News: And what about you, personally? What has the experience been like owning a junior hockey team in Halifax?

Simon: It’s been highs and lows, of course you know from this past season, but it’s (also) been a pure joy and a pleasure. Whenever you get a chance to be a part of a sports team whether at the ownership level or working for a team, it’s a different industry than others.

Going from the journey from the start of training camp to the end of the season. It’s really fun. I’ll probably have grey hairs before I turn 45 because of the emotional stress it takes on everybody but that’s the beauty of sport. It’s anybody’s game. It’s something special because of the competitive aspect.

We’re looking forward to many more great years building the relationship and connection with the community, hopefully having a lot of success on and off the ice with our players, on the business side, and with the fan experience.

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