Fred Harbinson is now the president of the Penticton Vees.
The club made the announcement Tuesday.
Talk of the additional role to his duties as coach and general manager began over a week ago. He said it stems from their lease agreement with the city, which expired at the end of last season. Harbinson said negotiations have been ongoing for a couple of months and they have a big meeting Wednesday.
“We’re hopeful that we can make some progress,” said Harbinson. “Graham felt that this was an area he wanted me to be involved in.”
In the release, Harbinson said it’s crucial to develop the brand in the community. “This is an important time for the long-term future and success of our organization,” said Harbinson, who takes over the position from Frank Darin, one of the Vees’ owners. “Our majority owner, Mr. Graham Fraser, is entrusting me with a task, which is critical in building a true partnership between the Vees and the City of Penticton.”
Harbinson, who joined the Vees in 2007, will enhance his role in the community by strengthening ties with local businesses, school groups, seniors and minor hockey.
He described this opportunity as growth for his overall career. He sees it as a chance to be a little more hands-on on the business side.
“I think the one thing we’ve done well on the hockey side is I’ve found a way to have good staff, make them accountable,” he said. “The same thing is going to go for the other side of this. It’s an area we need to clean up and be better at.”
Harbinson also assures fans they don’t need to worry about the on-ice product. “My added responsibility to the overall business operations will not negatively impact hockey operations,” said Harbinson, adding that nothing changes in his contract that has six years remaining. “I am very fortunate to have strong support staff led by our two assistant coaches Mike Hengen and Steve Cawley. Our mandate will not change from player development and competing for championships.”
The Vees will also establish a board of directors from its ownership group, which will be chaired by Fraser. The board will support and assist Harbinson in creating initiatives to benefit and enhance the Vees on and off the ice.
In his six seasons behind the Vees bench, Harbinson has a .746 winning percentage with a 252-77-5-22 record. He has led the Vees to two BCHL championships, a Doyle Cup Championship and the 2012 RBC Cup National Championship.