CHESAPEAKE, Va. – On July 23, 2019, newly minted Norfolk Admirals owner Patrick Cavanagh brought Brad Jones to the Admirals front office to serve as the Director of Operations. Jones, 33, has worked alongside Cavanagh at Chilled Ponds Ice Sports Complex, managing the day-to-day operations of the Hampton Roads Whalers junior program (founded by Cavanagh in 2006). Jones was on that initial junior team, and the Whaler program has been embedded in his DNA ever since.
With Jones’ promotion to the Admirals, he still retains the title of General Manager for the Whalers. The Sin Bin’s Ted Warren sat down with Jones to talk about his new role with the Admirals and the plans the new ownership has in place for the 2019-2020 season.
The Sin Bin: As Director of Operations, what duties will you be tasked with on a day-to-day basis?
Brad Jones: So, my focus is on the game day — making sure everything is set up and testing pre-game all the way through when the doors open. Any pre-game events, plaza events, concourse events and what’s happening in the arena, as well as what events are going on at what times. Also, making sure that the families are having a great time when they come to an Admirals game and they enjoy that experience.
TSB: What kind of promotional schedule does the team have lined up this season?
BJ: We’re going to have themes for every single night. We’re going to do five military nights; It’s extremely important to us to be tied into our military community. We’re going to do a Virginia Beach strong night that we’re really excited about. We have the Marvel nights and the Nickelodeon nights that they do with league. A lot of other fun stuff like the Pucks and Paws, Pink in the Rink, and we’re going to bring back the MDA night and the ALS night.
TSB: Besides the Kelly Cup, what’s the number one priority for the ownership this year?
BJ: The number one priority I would say is to make sure that we bring the culture back to the Admirals and make sure fans enjoy coming to the game. The Admirals need to be the place to be again. It’s been a team that has been around for 30 years, and it’s a town that wants to support hockey. It’s gotten away from its roots and we want to get back to that.
TSB: Since the Admirals have rejoined the ECHL, there has been a struggle to put fans in seats. How does the organization plan to pack the Scope again like it was in the 90’s?
BJ: It’s a little bit of everything. You want to have a competitive team. You want to have pride in the team. You have to be tied into your community so the community feels as much as part of the Admirals as the players do. That goes hand-in-hand with making sure we’re out in the community, making sure we’re out at community events, and that the players are interacting and making people feel that they’re connected with the team. We want to put a competitive product on the ice and chase the playoff berths and chase the championships. The fan experience is also very important. We want to make it a family fun thing to do.
TSB: How do you see first year Head Coach Rod Taylor re-establishing that winning tradition on the ice?
BJ: Pride, culture, establish expectation, and making sure that the guys tow the rope. If they don’t tow the rope, they won’t be here very long. He’s a very demanding coach; he expects a lot out of himself and his players. If they’re not meeting those expectations, they won’t be here. It’s plain and simple. From the effort they give, to the pride they take, to the culture they create, and how they carry themselves out in the community is extremely important to us.
TSB: Will there be a transition period for Coach Taylor at all coming from juniors to pro?
BJ: If there is, I think it will just be a small one. He’s played at that level, he’s played in the USHL, he’s played Division I hockey. He’s got scoring records for Ferris State. He’s got scoring record for the USHL, and he’s got records in the ECHL. He knows what it takes to be successful at this level. He’s a smart guy. He knows the game, and he knows how to get the best out of his players.
TSB: News broke recently about Rapid City being Arizona’s new ECHL affiliate. Is there hints that the team may have a new affiliate this year?
BJ: We’ll see what happens as Rod and Patrick work through that process.
The Admirals kick off the 2019-2020 season against the Florida Everblades at the Norfolk Scope. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30pm. Follow Ted Warren and his hockey exploits on Twitter: @757HockeyDude.