Stephane Pattyn is back in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League as he’s accepted a position with the Selkirk Steelers for the upcoming season.
“The position as a whole is considered as the Business Operations Manager”, Pattyn explained. “It comes from a friendship and partnership with current owner Jordan Fillion. Over the past few months, we’ve had a strong relationship form. Jordan saw an opportunity of my experiences and skills to bring value to the team from the business side of things.”
No stranger to the MJHL as a player, Pattyn put up 104 points in 114 games over two plus seasons with the Portage Terriers before moving on to University of North Dakota, where he served as captain in 2014-15.
“I’ve seen a lot of growth in the league (since playing)” says Pattyn. “I think the growth started shortly before my time, worked at during my time but really took off after. Player development has become a main focus, getting players ready for the next level. It’s something I really believe in. I think it stems from a lot of good work from a lot of good people in the league. For example, the coach of the Steinbach Pistons Paul Dyck, and others have really pushed the envelope in bringing in recruiters and teams from the next level, increasing exposure for the players. It’s where it needed to be.”
Pattyn has a similar mindset when it comes to the Steelers and looking to return them to a championship-model franchise. “That’s where I see our greatest opportunity. For one, as a player in my time, the Selkirk Steelers had a pedigree of success and a hardworking culture. Having been removed from the league for a little bit, coming back to see where things are at, I see a massive opportunity to help the good people who are currently running the organization and the volunteers who are putting in a ton of time to make it what it is. It’s not an easy task to run a junior team. I see an opportunity to reinstate an identity with the organization.”
The key in the eyes of Pattyn is getting the community behind the club. “Our hard work matches the community. They’re very hardworking, it’s a blue-collar community. I think if there isn’t a purpose laid out and set out or communicated with local businesses who help support the team through sponsorships, fans who fill the seats and support the team, or even the players being the product on the ice. If that’s not all aligned there will be confusion at each level. I’m hoping to come in and be humbled by the amount of work that everyone has done and is doing but also offer some insight and ideas in areas where my experiences have shown and proven that these are the things that work. That’s really what I’m most excited about.”
Again, Pattyn reiterates it’s all about connecting with the business community. “It’s the biggest thing. These junior teams are community staples. It starts at the top, it’s expensive to operate a team, especially these days. The price of travel, the price of everything seems to always be increasing. To be able to offer value through partnerships and really show the contribution that these businesses can make but also the reciprocation of what the team offers to the businesses. Whether it’s advertising, marketing, or integrating players and utilizing those relationships, they offer value to what they provide for us. That’s my first focus. I’m really excited because there are great businesses in the city of Selkirk and the surrounding area. There are passionate people here that really care about the team and the community. It’s about bringing everyone together to achieve a goal.”
At the end of the day, Pattyn says he’s a hockey guy and he feels truly blessed to be back around the game he loves in the league that means so much to him. “When you have a passion that runs so deep, I mean for roughly 25 years of my life it was an everyday duty, an everyday gift that I got to play the game I loved. It’s remained in my blood and that’s what I hope to bring to the team. There are a lot of really good people in place and I’m looking forward to seeing them, how they work and how they see and understand the sport as well as the business side. I’m looking to learn and combining the passion of hockey and business, makes this a great, great fit.”
Perhaps best known in the colors of Terrier or North Dakota green and white, Pattyn says the red and white of the Selkirk Steelers suits him just fine. “Ultimately, every team has a story and better understanding the Steeler’s story through time with Jordan, having experience and having seen what it’s been in the past but now working on the vision for the future, that’s what gets me excited. The old saying, it’s not about the name on the back but the logo on the front that matters most’, is something that I’ve bought into my whole life and anyone who’s followed my journey knows that’s true. I committed myself fully to any organization I was with and I’m looking to continue that. I’m looking to add value and help, that’s the attitude I’m taking into this and I’m very excited.”