North Stars AGM

The Battlefords North Stars held their AGM last night at the Civic Center. Several announcements were made and almost all of them were news that can be described as good to great.

First some bad news. Cheri Lynch has stepped down from the board of the North Stars after roughly 16 years. That’s a blow for the Stars but Lynch will still be at the rink and involved in the team. She will continue running the scoreboard and doing the stats. Which is in the great news category as it wouldn’t be the same at the rink without Cheri around. Thanks for all the hard work you’ve done Cheri and will continue to do in the future.

The North Stars announced a contract extension for Coach Hasselberg. This is fantastic news for the club. It gives them stability at the head coach position to go along with Blair Atcheynum. The coaching staff for the North Stars is one of the top groups in the league and I guarantee no one works harder than Coach Hasselberg. Others probably can and do work as hard but from what I have seen I would be very surprised to find the Stars coach being outworked. On a personal level I am very happy to be able to work with Coach Hasselberg, and Atch, for the foreseeable future. I enjoy spending time with them both on a professional and personal level.

The Stars head coach was originally signed to a two-year contract. Going into this season Kevin would have had one year left on that deal but the board extended his contract by another two season through the 2014/2015 season. According to president Ray Adelman the board began discussing the extnesion around Christmas and moved forward with the offer after the season. They didn’t want to get involved in discussion on the contract during the season or playoffs. Coach Hasselberg said it was a family decision but that he and his wife, son and daughter were all pleased to be able to extend the contract here in the Battlefords. Coach Hasselberg also said that this community “grows on you” a sentiment I can completely understand and agree with. It grows on you quickly.

Typically Kevin was also quick to point out that he will to continue working to bring a winner to the Battlefords.

The North Stars also announced yesterday that they have hired a full time Athletic Therapist. Michelle Beatty is the new hire who will replace Dale Jackson. Coach Hasslberg was quick to point out that Dale Jackson was and always will be a great part of the North Stars program. His enthusiasm was contagious and I know Michelle will have big shoes to fill. But having someone with her qualifications is a big step forward for the program as well as having a full time therapist at the disposal of the players.

On Dale Jackson coach Hasselberg said, “First we want to recognize Dale Jackson and the work he did for our program. He was extremely dedicated and hard working.”

Coach Hasselberg said, “We are excited to bring somebody that has a degree and that’s trained and educated specifically for this position. And also has the experience to follow working with university hockey teams and  junior ‘A’ and junior ‘B’ programs.”

For more on Beatty check out the release from the North Stars at http://www.northstars.ca

And perhaps the best news of the day was the North Stars financial report. Thanks in large part to the hard work of the; board, the players and the staff of the North Stars, the team saw a huge financial turn around this past season. Another MASSIVE thank you for the turn around goes out to you, the fans. The previous season the North Stars made 14,000 dollars in gate receipts from playoff games. This past playoff run saw the North Stars make a little over 100,000 dollars in revenue from playoff gates. Couple that with a large reduction in expenses, a solid crop from the Ag project and other revenue increases (Hot Stove Lounge revenue was up $40,000) and the North Stars made a $189,000 turn around. At this time last year the North Stars were $69,751.72 in debt. They are now $37,501.31 in the black. They have money in the bank where at this time last year they were surviving on a loan.

Now a long playoff run helped with that turn around. Of that there can be no doubt. But just going on that playoff run wouldn’t have been enough. They needed the fans to show up and you did. 15,132 of you showed up for 7 home playoff dates. And that’s incredible. That’s an average crowd of 2,161 fans per game. The North Stars fans helped take this team from debt to very solid financial footing. Over $100,000 dollars in playoff gates is mind boggling.

As a fan of this team you should be, and I am sure you are, very excited by this news. This will allow the Stars to continue to be a top notch SJHL program and to improve the program moving forward. I am still beaming and I had nothing to do with it. The fans, board, staff and players of the North Stars should be commended and should be very, very proud. Well done.

Finally a personal note.

I have been saying for a while that being in the Battlefords is one of the top spots to be to cover Junior ‘A’ hockey not only in the SJHL but anywhere in the country. The people I work for and with, the hours I work, they job I get to do, the team I am privileged enough to cover. Also the players, coaches, staff and fans of this team are amazing as well. Everything is top notch. And last night’s meeting just proved that fact even more.

This team is moving very much in the right direction due to numerous people working hard and pulling in the right direction. I am please to be able to cover this team for the coming season and into the future.

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North Stars Annual Golf Classic

The North Stars held their annual golf tournament at the North Battleford Golf and Country Club over the weekend. I was lucky enough to golf in a great group with Brian and Al from ReMax as well as Grayden Turner and Blake Young from the North Stars. The weather couldn’t have been better for the event and it was great seeing a lot of current and former North Stars as well as coach Hasselberg and Atcheynum. I have been staying in touch with coach via text message and the odd phone call but it was nice to catch up face to face. The steak dinner was excellent as well so all in all I had a very good day. It was also nice that we were able to salute Dale Jackson at the dinner with a standing ovation after he was singled out for his long tenure with the team. I was mistakenly given credit for starting the standing ‘O’ even though a gentleman in a camouflage hat was the first to stand. Either way it was a deserved moment for DJ aka The White Shark.

In other Stars news the AGM is tonight at the Civic Center at 7pm. If you are interested in helping the Stars as a board member or volunteer you can call 445-7827 for more information or head to the Civic Center tonight.

And this really deserves it’s own post but I am going to include it here for ease of access.

Jared Samborski has been forced to retire from hockey due to injury.

I spoke with coach Hasselberg and with Jared and they both said that an accumulation of various injuries was the reason he made that decision. Jared struggled with several different injuries over the course of his career and during this past season including some broken bones and some concussion related symptoms as well. It’s always incredibly sad when a career comes to and end prematurely and certainly in this case to see a player with 2 more years of junior eligibility forced out of hockey is tough to swallow. Coach Hasselberg said of Samborski, “a reckless player and I don’t say that in a negative way” when I spoke with him. Coach went on to say that Samborski played with passion and character and put his body on the line every night for his team mates. I couldn’t agree more with Coach about the on ice and off ice contributions of Samborski. He genuinely is an excellent young man who represents his family very well.

Samborski loved playing hockey and loved being at the rink. He always had a big smile on his face no matter the tough circumstances he was faced with and to be honest I don’t think I’ve seen any other player smiling when forced to work the camera when out of the lineup. But he really just enjoyed being out at the rink and involved with his local team. That’s another aspect of this situation which frankly sucks. I love the fact the Stars seem to have a lot of local players on the roster and losing one is tough.

Oh and he was the Stars Humanitarian Award winner this season. That’s an aspect of their team that coach Hasselberg and Atcheynum take very seriously. Here is what the Stars said about Sammy when he was given the award.

Humanitarian: Jared Samborski

Jared Samborski showed a great deal of enthusiasm when spending time out in the community. With community involvement being a priority for the club this season, Jared displayed an ideal example of what the club hopes to portray. He was always eager to interact with fans, and approached every team activity with a friendly and positive attitude. Jared certainly left an impression on the youth he met through community activities.

This is a tough loss for the Stars on and off the ice. Sammy will be missed and hopefully we will see lots of him around the rink this fall and maybe even get him on a few broadcasts as well. Best of luck in the future Jared.

Brandon Long trade made official

The Battlefords North Stars announced today that they have concluded a trade for Brandon Long. The North Stars sent future considerations to the Trail Smoke Eaters of the BCHL for Long. The Calgary native is a 1993 born forward who shoots right and provided the Smokies with some offense last season. Long had 8 goals in his rookie season, which led the team, and 6 of those 8 goals came in the second half of the season after he had become accustomed to the BCHL game.

When this trade was first being rumoured/reported by Trail I spoke briefly with Smoke Eaters broadcaster Chris Wahl (@wahlsy) and he said Long is a decent offensive player with improving skills who should continue to get better and better offensively. At 6’0 and 185, although that could change by the time training camp rolls around, Long isn’t the biggest player. But I am told he plays a reasonably physical game and certainly doesn’t shy away from going into the corners to get the puck.

I don’t know what the futures will end up being at this point but I do know that training camp can’t come soon enough. With Long added to a group of returning forwards that includes Roger Tagoona, Kyle Hall, Braeden Johnson, Tanner Schwab and Tim Rollins the North Stars are looking like a team that could roll 3 good scoring lines. Don’t forget players like Blake Young and Carter Danczak could be added to that list. Plus Kevin Hasselberg is recruiting and has landed some recruits. Plus anyone could really step up and provide offense from an unlikely source or come out of nowhere at training camp to impress the coaching staff.

For more on the Long trade check out the North Stars website.

 

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Also it is worth noting that the North Stars annual golf tournament is this weekend. And their AGM is Monday night at the Civic Center. They are looking to fill some positions on the board so for more info check http://www.northstars.ca or call the office at 445-7827.

Potential SJHL Expansion?

More info is coming out about topics discussed during the SJHL AGM over the weekend.

http://www.sjhl.ca/news_item.aspx?news_id=2464

From the release:

The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League held its AGM on June 9th .

The agenda consisted of many housekeeping items for the teams and the league.

The 2012-13 season will start play on September 21st 2012.

Teams Training camps may start on August 31st 2012.

The season will end on February 26th 2013, teams will play a 54 game schedule.

 

I spoke with Tom Chief on the phone this morning. He is a councilor on the Onion Lake First Nation and is in charge of their bid process. He said they had a Junior B team for over a decade starting in the mid-90s and running that team was great experience. The goal was always to have a Junior A team.

Chief also said that the arena needs to be updated and that funds have been allocated to finish that project. Originally they didn’t finish installing seats and so that needs to be done to bring capacity up to it’s maximum which would be 2,500 people.

The Onion Lake is the biggest Oil producing First Nation in Canada so funds shouldn’t be a problem.

The bid team also knows that they will be competing with Junior A teams in the area (Bonnyville, Lloydminster, even the North Stars) when it comes to recruiting players from the area. Again from the SJHL website:

The Governors have tabled the application for it to be reviewed. Governors will also determine if the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League has a desire to expand at this time.

 

Junior A Supplement

Daniel Fink has updated his excellent blog post about the SJHL AGM with information about adjustments to the Junior A Supplement. http://behindthemicblog.blogspot.ca/2012/06/sjhl-agm.html

At some point after the supplement in it’s entirety is released I will post it here for you guys to check it out. I don’t mind the changes that I have seen so far. I think fighting has a place in hockey but I don’t want to see kids getting hurt either. And staged fights are the worst part of hockey. So getting rid of that aspect of the game is fine with me.

SJHL AGM

The SJHL AGM took place in Regina over the weekend. For a great recap of what happened check out http://behindthemicblog.blogspot.ca/

Daniel Fink did a great post on the topic so I won’t get too much into the details. I do want to talk about the Showcase weekend being scrapped. Personally I don’t like it. The Showcase was one of the real highlights for me from last season. It’s a great chance to network with other players, coaches and broadcasters. It is also a chance to talk to scouts and league brass. Plus it’s a chance to see a bunch of other teams from the SJHL that maybe I haven’t seen a lot of yet. For a number of reasons I will miss the Showcase.

But if the scouts weren’t coming out in the numbers that the league had hoped it needs to be addressed. So while I am not happy about it personally I understand why the decision was made. Stars President Ray Adelman was at the meeting and he was not in favour of scrapping the Showcase.

Other issues discussed at the meeting included potentially having electronic ticketing as well an update on the SJHL’s marketing plan.

Then there is the schedule. Adelman told CJNB/CJNS that the schedule is being worked on by the coaches today and will likely be released Thursday or Friday. I imagine with a schedule for an entire league delays are always possible as well. But as a broadcaster I am just as excited as the fans to get my hands on the schedule and start analyzing it. You can be I will have a post up when the schedule is released so keep checking back on this site for more.

And tune into CJNB/CJNS for Sports reports in the next day that feature Adelman and his thoughts on the meeting.