The Ontario Hockey League today announced that Windsor Spitfires’ Vice-President and General Manager Warren Rychel is the OHL Executive of the Year for the 2008-09 season.
Rychel, a 41-year-old native of Tecumseh, ON, which neighbours Windsor, is the first winner of this award from the Spitfires organization. Rychel joined the league in the spring of 2006 as part of the Spitfires Ownership Group that also includes President and Head Coach Bob Boughner as well as Governor and Treasurer Peter Dobrich.
Rychel has been instrumental in the success of the Spitfires both on and off the ice in his first three seasons. This year the Spitfires shattered a team record for points in a season with 115 (57-10-0-1 record) to win the Hamilton Spectator Trophy for finishing first overall in the OHL regular season. The 115 points is the best season since the 1987-88 Windsor Compuware Spitfires club that registered 102 points, and marks an increase of 21 points from the 2007-08 season where they recorded 94 points. The 94 points in Rychel’s second season showed a 51 point increase from his first season in 2006-07 when the team missed the playoffs with just 43 points.
I am honoured to have been recognized by the Ontario Hockey League in this manner said Rychel. Being in such a competitive league such as the OHL, I work with the coaches, scouts, and office staff on a daily basis to make our club better, both on and off the ice. I think Bob, Peter, myself and the staff of our club have a common goal of trying to be the best franchise in the Canadian Hockey League, and that does not come without a lot of hard work and sacrifice added Rychel.
As a General Manager, Rychel has assembled a tremendous scouting staff led by Terry Doran which has been successful in identifying talent and acquiring key players. In his first OHL Priority Selection in 2006 the Spitfires selected players such as Greg Nemisz and Adam Henrique. Both were later taken in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft with Nemisz selected by the Calgary Flames 25th overall and Henrique in the third round, 82nd overall to the New Jersey Devils. The following year the Spitfires acquired Taylor Hall and Ryan Ellis at the 2007 OHL Priority Selection. Both helped Team Ontario win gold at the 2008 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and are top NHL prospects with Ellis eligible in 2009 and Hall in 2010.
Off the ice, the profile of the Spitfires club has been positively influenced with Rychel and the Ownership Group that shows tremendous passion for the game and a commitment to the community. Overall attendance has grown 46% since their arrival in 2006 and the establishment of the Windsor Spitfires Foundation has helped raise and donate more than $100,000 to the local community in this short time. This season, the Spitfires hosted a very successful 2009 Subway OHL All-Star Classic with interactive fan-fest activities and alumni events at the beautiful new WFCU Centre. The Spitfires opened the doors to their new arena midway through this season and with the leadership of the Ownership Group have made their facility one of the best in Major Junior hockey throughout the CHL.
The OHL Executive of the Year Award is presented annually to the executive whose team demonstrates success both on the ice and at the administration level through excellent organization and franchise success. The winner is selected by the League’s Executive Council and is the League’s nominee for the CHL Executive of the Year Award. Denise Burke of the Niagara IceDogs was the recipient last season, with Craig Goslin of the Saginaw Spirit winning in back-to-back seasons in 2005-06 and in 2006-07.
Rychel played three OHL seasons with the Sudbury Wolves, Guelph Platers, Ottawa 67’s, and Kitchener Rangers before graduating in 1987. A former scout of the Phoenix Coyotes, Rychel played in 403 NHL games before retiring in 1999 from the Colorado Avalanche, a team he won a Stanley Cup Championship with in 1996.