No Soo minor bantam team Staff
August 30, 2017

Sault Ste. Marie will not be represented by a AAA minor bantam team for the 2017-2018 season, has confirmed.

An official with the Sault Major Hockey Association has told that the AAA minor bantam Soo Thunder is taking a leave of absence for the upcoming Northern Ontario Bantam Hockey League season.

What you think about “No Soo minor bantam team”

    1. Peter Brot, if the Thunder were a great organization they would attract the top kids year after year. Parents would be glad to “sign the check” and leave the rink knowing their player would be developed to his fullest potential.

      Perhaps all prior parents were just foolish with their dollars. Glad to see someone finally stand up with a backbone. Everyone has been overpaying for years. No Thunder Kool-Aid this season.

  1. sad state of affairs really, the AAA parents claimed it was too expensive for them, …if they would have dropped the price to 2000 those AAA parents would still not have tried out because boiled down they didn’t like the coach and his hockey model. because apparently there are only a couple coaches who know how to coach their child …. can’t wait till all these future OHL/NHL parents of draft picks boycott other teams because they don’t like the coaches or they only want their hand picked coaches. Wouldn’t doubt if Soo Major finds another NON-PARENTAL coach to try to put together a team

  2. What a joke . I hope that all the bashing these parents did comes around and bits them in the ass. Former coaches telling parents to boycott tryouts this way Sault major will give them the team. Which didn’t work.. They told them parents that they are guaranteed to get the aa bantam team. Which Sault major didn’t appoint them. Who do they think they are bashing all these volunteers and organizations that have helped a ton of kids. They need to cut the cord. Next year who they going to bash. The year after that they ate going to bash Jamie Henderson until he quits. Total joke . These coaches and parents should be ashamed of themselves

      1. Hey Informed, you need to get informed The 05 group asked for a new coach after 3 years, we did our time with a ragtag coaching staff that never showed and was littered by parent coaches and staff coat tailing their kids into the program. We supplied a very qualified replacement (Non-Parent) coach who was number one ranked by the coach selection committee, but Soo major didnt make the change. If you ask them now they know a mistake was made. The old coach said he could field a team so they trusted him. Guess what he pulled an 06 and 4 or 5 AA players. This in turned stripped down the AA team. Now both groups are screwed. Please don’t comment about something you know nothing about. We will all be there next year as the rebuilding/healing has already started…

        1. Rep hockey dad…your name says it all….now you have another parental coach…think about that for a sec…hey…as long as you get what you want…who cares about anyone else….who are you guys going to boycott next year???

          1. Harsh words Informed we didnt boycott anything … A simple request to change a coach or get him some help… Go watch one of the now 2005 AAA practices you will very quickly understand why we needed change New coaches next year models planned with pricing etc.. 85% of next years team is on board with these plans
            so go hide in your closet and throw stones at someone else

          2. One man’s opinion…. You guys made it hard for.him and most of.your team. Save for the Lemmings that followed the 2 to. The promised land have never played for him.. Now you have another. parental Coach who tried to take his son out. Of. Town with no luck….. Well. I hope you get your hand picked coach next year who.will obviously.make sure you are all. Drafted.. If you and your. Parents cared. As. Much about education as You did hockey development…. Sheesh

  3. It really is a shame this has happened. I feel sorry for a group of 13 year old young men that in the end just want to play hockey at the AAA level. As an opposing coach, this team is very good and for them to not play at the level they should is disappointing. I would have hoped the association, parents and former coaches could have had cooler heads prevail and look out for the best interests of the players. This decision not only affects the Soo players but also affects other teams in the North. North Bay and NC now do not have a league (albeit a small one) to play in and are forced to totally revamp their season.
    The season does not start for another 2 weeks. Get together and figure this out for the sake of AAA players throughout the north.

  4. We’ve played spring hockey with a number of players on this team. We’ve also played against the 04 group at winter tournaments. It’s a total shame these players won’t be together at the AAA level. The prior coaches were stand up guys who new their stuff. They always played the game the right way. The team was very competitive across North America. My son has great memories spending time with 3 of the kids on Midwest.

    As a result of spring hockey I’ve gotten to know a few of the families. They’re all wonderful people. If you have an issue with them, perhaps contact them face to face. I’m certain they’ll indicate their side of the story.

    Your home association needs to fix this. Adults shouldn’t hurt 13 year old kids.

    1. Its obvious you were paying attention because someone hundreds of miles away like youself could see what i see…enjoy your season

  5. The state of sault major makes me sick. Sad to see what happend to Soo Thunder. When I was a kid I don’t care if Micky mouse was coaching that team I would of given my left nut to play for such a storied organization. Parents have gone mental. Absolutely mental. The problem isn’t the coaches it’s the players. They aren’t as good as they use to be. Plain and simple. You can’t compete when you have 5 good players 3 decent and 10 who don’t belong. You Can’t shine shit. As for the major bantams. How about thanking colletti and his staff for over 10 years of service. Gross had been there for 20 years! Keith probably 15. And Ralph has run that program since 2002. They had success in the past. What changed? The talent isn’t there anymore. Makes me sick. These guys get tossed to the side just like its no big deal, 2 weeks before the season. And to boot for young guys who have nothing more then bantam aa experience. No disrespect to Cruz I’m sure he will do a good job with what he has. Everyone has to start somewhere. Say what you want about soo thunder or the bantam hounds staff. Just remember they loose thousands and thousands a year of their own money volunteering to help your kids. They did a lot more then you know behind the scenes so these kids could play and make the next step. They should be acknowledged and thanked for all the years not only developing hockey players but also turning kids into fine young man. Just my two cents. I hate commenting but it’s hard to bite my tongue.

    1. Noj Alum;

      When you were a kid you never paid any money!
      The 1980 team that included Ron Francis…..parents never paid equivalent to what is paid now
      How do you know they loose thousands of their own money? All the books are closed!! Show the accounts books!
      If the talent is not there…..why not try to develop it?
      So why should parents pay thousands of dollars for kids going nowhere? As per your words no talent anymore
      It is all about money……Money Sharks are preying on parents who want their children to play hockey!
      Some parents are saying enough!

  6. Soo Thunder is a private hockey company. This company has been operating for the last 30+ years. The average cost per year to play for this company is about $12,000 to $15,000. Upfront fees, $6,300, plus hotel bills plus food. The question that should be asked….what is this company offering parents and their children?
    What are their key performance indexes at end of each year?
    Why should parents not be given other CHEAPER options instead of being forced to play for this private company?
    Atom to PeeWee, the teams are run as differently…..fees charged and accounted for each year
    Is it not time for Sault Major to open up for other people to form private hockey companies to compete with Soo Thunder to lower the cost of playing?
    Should parents not be allowed to have a contribution?
    Why should Soo Thunder take leave this year? More that 17 kids showed up for the tryouts…..why not take 17 kids and develop them and show Sault Major at the end of the year what a fantastic program they have!
    These private hockey companies have been selling bad dreams to parents for too long!

    1. Fact is… it is not about cost…because Soo Thunder could have offered the whole program for $3000 and those parents would have still boycotted them because they don’t want anyone else coaching their boys and want to remain as a group… It has noting to do with the money and everything to do with parents not letting go…can’t wait to see the looks on their faces when they notice that Bantam AA hockey fees are 1500-2000 plus registration….

      1. Informed…. we’ll never know what a reduction of $3,300 on team fees would have accomplished. The offer was never made.

        The offer would have proved one thing however, that the existing pricing model is way over priced. How do you go from collecting $107,100 to $51,000 (based on 17 players) and operate the team? If the Thunder can operate the team for $51,000 why wouldn’t they from the start?

        With regard to your statement “can’t wait to see the looks on their faces when they notice that Bantam AA hockey fees are 1500-2000 plus registration” I think they’ll be very happy. They’ve saved themselves $4,300 – $4,800 in team fees. On ice commitment and coaching appear to be a wash. Sure sounds like a better deal to me. I’d certainly prefer the $4,300 – $4,800 in my pocket, I’m sure the 2004 parents feel the same.

  7. Sault Major should have solved this problem. There’s no way this should ever have happened. Some type of mediation or discussions should have taken place a long time ago. This is embarrassing for our city and Northern Ontario.

    When the Bantam Major AAA team folded, Sault Major jumped in within days with a new coaching staff, management staff and significant price deductions on team fees ($7,500 to $3,700). The result was new try outs which resulted in fielding a Bantam Major AAA team. Why did that not happen with the 2004 AAA group/team. Why does the Thunder Program need $6,300 in team fees to operate while the Bantam Major AAA team needs $3,700

    Parents across age groups in SSM are telling Sault Major they want change. Time to start listening to your paying customers. The sh*t show Sault Major has created can be avoided with proper leadership and decision making.

    Sault Major is responsible for youth rep hockey in SSM, take some ownership and accountability and make the required changes. If you’re not interested in change, leave. Recent history of bad decision making and poor choices speaks loudly.

    I don’t blame the parents at all. I blame Sault Major.

  8. Bingo!

    Theyve raised the team fees twice for the AA House league in the last month.
    From 850/950 to 1500 to 2000.

    Watering down the AA teams to 3 teams and then putting them in the Northern loop to play Sudbury & North Bay.

    Who are we kidding? Pure mismanagement by people who should be watching hockey not running it.

    1. It’s very apparent Sault Major is in shambles. They react without thought or consideration, they’re inept, incompetent and inefficient with just about every decision they make.

      I really feel sorry for the hockey parents and players in our community. Things are really messed up.

  9. I wouldn’t normally post on articles where people can remain anonymous but I feel this case warrants it. We, as a city, are very passionate about our hockey. Having said that, it is very sad to see what is occurring in our hometown.

    In regards to the AAA Bantam program let me be clear; no coaches at any time told anybody to boycott tryouts. That just DID NOT happen. Some have indicated that there was a ‘secret’ meeting where parents were told to boycott try-outs. Yes, we did have a meeting where upcoming options were discussed. What was actually discussed is not a secret. Here’s what WAS presented:

    -AA Hockey. 52.5 practice hours 60 games. Around $1500
    -AAA Hockey. 60 practice hours 60 games. Around $7500
    -Both programs would involve some travel to watch your son or daughter play (and yes I would like to travel and watch my kid play hockey). AAA requiring more.
    -Choose the option that best fits your family. Nobody will be judged or blackballed from hockey camps or extra ice sessions if they choose the AAA route….the choice is yours

    That’s it…there is no secret society out to dismantle the Thunder!

    My son will be playing AA as I would like to spend the monetary difference on icetime and development and I don’t think it’s appropriate for 12 and 13 year olds to be rooming by themselves on the road.
    We appreciate all the past efforts of the Thunder staff. These are a group of volunteers who are not receiving any money putting time and effort into youth hockey away from their families, however, the Bantam AA coaches are also a strong group of volunteers providing the same instruction. Simply put, the Soo Thunder model puts parents’ hard earned money into buses and hotel rooms for kids. I would rather my money be spent on icetime for development and practice. This is my choice and this is a choice that each former AAA family had to make for themselves this summer.

    It is unfortunate that our absence from the AAA program affects the entire AAA league in the north and also has a trickle down effect where players that should be in the AA league will now be pushed to A. In order to avoid this, we approached Sault Major with our concerns 2 years ago and we were told verbatim, “if you don’t like the program, choose AA.” Therefore, that is what we have done. Parents have allocated money saved elsewhere. There are families with other kids in competitive sports and hobbies which are equally important

    As far as coaching our kids. This is not why we applied for several teams. All we wanted to do was to provide a hockey first model (same model as we have had success with for the past 4 years) where dollars are allocated to icetime and skill development. To go a step further, we brought in new coaches so our kids could hear a different voice.

    To the people who where part of the Thunder program. Your threats on our children that “Hockey is a small world” and “Do not take these kids and problem parents” you are making a bad situation even worse. If you have any intent to blackball or hurt a kids chance to play hockey because they don’t choose AAA you are a disgrace and should have nothing to do with youth sports!

    On a positive note, Sault Major has provided us with a very competitive local Bantam AA league with good coaches. Hopefully, this is just a bump in the road and these AAA programs get back on track next year with more emphasis on hockey instead of buses.

    If you have any questions or comments please have the courage to post your real name, even better talk to me or any former staff face to face .

    See you at the rink.

    Jeff Toms

  10. So so sad. It’s unfortunate the whole truth will not come out. I don’t believe this has anything to do with cost. The programs built by Sault Major have been torn down. Coaches and teams are announced. Whether you like it or not your child plays. Such great organizations especially Soo Thunder should not have this happen. Maybe it’s time there are no rep teams at all at any level. Sorry to say this but parents should not be allowed behind the bench. Very sad day.

  11. I really wish more people would speak to the parents of the actual 04 team. I’ve heard so many discouraging rumors from people who think they understand what our team was thinking and what our team planned to do. It is obvious to me In The comments above that people hoped to villainize us and make us seem like we only wanted our coaches and wanted to spoon feed our boys (and girl). Jeff has explained what our team went through and the point of our actions. I don’t think this will change the minds of those who want it to be worse than the actual issue but I hope that before you spread more rumors you will ask one of us what actually happened. Most of us are more than willing to explain ourselves.

  12. I’ve had a grandson go through the Thunder program and it was excellent. They travelled, played, practiced and roomed as a team. We gave them a boy and we got a young man back. I’m from Sudbury and it is cheaper to play AAA because of the busing. Soo had 3.5 hours just to reach the nearest league team. Parents party on the road and sometimes there’s still fumes in the tank for the early morning games. Parents meet in the party room and the kids have the run of the hotel. I sponsor a Soo Major midget and its $8000. Busing in $60,000 for the year for any Soo team. I sponsor a Don Mills Major Bantam AAA player in part and it $6,500 annually with very limited busing. Triple A hockey is not cheap. Hockey equipment is through the roof. The game will survive. I’m well into my senior years and I’ve notice one universal problem with the game at the minor level. Too much parent involvement.

  13. Welll said , Mr Toms !
    You stepped up to the plate an answered a lot of questions that I’m sure a lot of people didn’t know .
    Good luck in the future.
    Feli . #5 in program, 1 in your hearts ♥️

  14. John Smith: when your pocketbooks are being raped and pillaged for years by a shit show program do you honestly think parents should sit back and accept this?? Maybe you enjoyed kissing coaches arses in the party room in the day but times they have changed. The one and only problem with Sault Major is one non hockey person who has created a dysfunctional league Due to his lack of hockey knowledge….care to chime in Matt Cavaliere??

    1. John Smith said it best. “we gave Soo Thunder our boy and he came back a young man” only ONE of the benefits of the Thunder program and from riding the bus and bunking together

  15. Mr. Smith, is it not correct that your grandchildren are coached by your son in-law in the Soo. I guess parent involvement is ok when it’s your family!!!

  16. Jeff… a few points, did you invite any other 04 parents to your non secret information session? You state the topic was not secret, obviously, because as you are aware (as per the parents on your team) more than just cost was discussed, including criticism of the Soo Thunder and how they operate. Since this was an informative meeting for your parents was a representative of the Soo Thunder there to explain what they have to off compared to your hockey model?? If not, then this is very one sided, perhaps to rally the troops for their support of your cause and to stick together for what is best for your children. So please tell us, if not you, who is an acceptable coach for your children??? and what is the acceptable cost? Because all in, lets be honest, your cost was probably more than 1500, and all in quite close to 5000 per family with rooms, gas, travel, etc..with maybe a 1000 refund and fundraising. the thunder is 6300 all in with no fundraising and you could go out and get business sponsorships to lower your individual costs considerably; and if we are talking cost and ice time, why is it ok for one of your parents to pay 8500 for Major Midget, riddle me that?
    Your hockey model is decent enough, but not without its issues, you could not get enough kids for a full team either and called up an 05 player to help you guys out and still had to ask the executive for approval to allow you to play “short handed”; and yes, parents removed children from your program, or flat out quit your team. I haven’t even touched on, kids playing more than one sport …not encouraged by their AAA coach to focus on hockey 12 months of the year.
    Your claim that the money you save will be put into ice time and development is very troubling, it seems you already have no faith in the current selected AA coaches to develop your children as you see fit. Do the current AA coaches have to worry on the ice of you being critical of them in the stands to other parents because you may not approve of the practice plan, line pairings, breakout drills… I’ll assume ice time must already be booked for your winter “hockey school” for you and your team? Fact is, 200 hours of hockey per winter will not get all of your kids drafted. You will say that is not your goal, but then what is your goal, why the huge need to develop their HOCKEY skills (as you state)…for a kick ass beer league team? As i hope you are quite aware, sport in general is so much more than the sport itself.
    Yes, you have applied for several teams as you stated, and you have probably offered your services to every coach but now the AA coaches who have probably read this and work so hard may think their efforts will possibly be undermined as your players will be instructed on the side, paying money to you and your coaches for your hockey model. That may make for a tough year. If you want to impress people, be like Hartsburg and Kovacs and do it when you don’t have a child involved, do it for the love of the game and ALL the children, not just when yours will benefit.
    I’m sorry Jeff, while Soo Major has made huge mistakes, but so have you and yourside there is a lot of blame being thrown around in this little episode, both sides own this, plain and simple. In the end, its not what you did, but how you did it, as we all agree that hockey is quite expensive and broken here in the Sault, and 2 wrongs don’t make it right….thank you for your time.

  17. Maybe all your parents aren’t on the same page bc I heard it from one of your parents that the plan was to fold the system in hopes to get the team eventually … what about the plan to keep the team together and practice across the river … or how the thunder tried to meet your concerns with price reductions, parents riding on the bus and the kids being able to stay in the rooms on the road with the parents and still no takers … it just seems that there was another agenda and now next year where will these kids be playing … AA again …seems a lot to sacrifice for a team that had a lot of success as the next two years of AAA hockey for these kids are very important if they want to further their careers as it is well known that there are many more scouts looking at players in aaa than aa … if the plan was to keep the kids together as a team and had nothing to do with the coaches not getting the team that has failed as the players will be split up through the aa and maybe even A … hockey in the soo is very fickle and politics always plays a huge roll and unfortunately blackballing does happen and it’s a shame that the only ones who will suffer in the long run are the kids just because a few egos got bruised

  18. SO DISAPPOINTED WITH THE EGOS HERE (or maybe just blurred visions?)

    So many ways to fix this where is the common sense on this one??

    The 03’s came through and salvaged a workable agreement for everyone involved. Sault Majors new treasurer BI used his powers/experience to build a financial model and new coaches to make his boys 03 program happen. Why cant that be done for the 04’s???

    Facts/Attitudes as they sit today…….
    A) Sault Major – AAA players wont come w/o Toms so why bother ??
    B) AAA parents – Group peer pressure afraid to veer from Toms and lose out on his development program??
    C) Toms – 1 skate a week offer from Sault Major exec to develop these kids not enough ??
    C) The AA league option for 04’s is weak now that the strong 03 AAA’s are gone??.
    D) Sault Majors new AA team fees ($15-2000) + League fees $900 +$700-$1000 for Toms program (guess??) thats roughly $35-4000 and blows the anticipated savings potential Jeff proposed compared to a model similar to the 03’s
    E) The part about the hotel/travel costs have to exit from this comparison we chose to live in the North and if we want good hockey we have to travel…..
    E) Losers are piling up
    – the 04′ players
    – other players/teams in the NOHL AAA league.
    – 15 players sent down to Bantam A losing out on the hockey they deserve…
    – AAA program rebuild will take time… start now it will be no different next year

    Gotta be a compromise somewhere in between,
    Ask yourselves the question what will change next year to make this better (not likely anything) So the kids will lose two years now

    My simple mind suggests….
    1) Pick a new coach, let Jeff help/consult (Pay coach $4k to attract quality)
    thats only $235/player (peanuts to get quality)
    2) Give Jeff 2 skates a week with kids make parents happy
    3) Use BI’s budget to make it work (no buses) Fenlon has the ability to make it happen

    I think this combination is feasible ????


  19. Funny how sault major dismantled an entire division from top to bottom to make sure one of the executives children had a team to play on. From what I’m reading, the 04 group is asking for similar changes, but are being critized as the thunder folded their program. People, the 03 parent group spoke loudly and were ignored until no one showed up for training camp.. Coaching and finance changes from listening to your paying group paid off and now u have a team. Sault major, u made this decision as one of your own may not be playing AAA, Tell me, how much different is that from the 04 group? !!!

    1. The scenario is exactly the same except the 04’s have a couple true hockey Dads that lead the charge..
      In the end who gives a crap about the rules, Sault major seems to bend them to fit when it suits them ……

      If 17 parents want Toms to coach then give him the Fking team …
      Pretty quick fix????Ill bet more than 30 kids show up to his tryouts

  20. This is not about compromise or options….. But more of what everyone. Is tired of… A “my. Way or no way” option…. Every coach has their detractors… But. Try to effect positive change… Not this… If you don’t like the product get your release and leave…or work with them, not against them with demands… As for the hockey minds issue… The soo is filled With hockeyminds most never played at a high level… And a lot Of those that did aren’t great hockey minds. Working together to effect change is good…. But demanding your.way is childish…. And let’s be quite frank…. This is not Jeff’s model… But Doucettes because he learned from Those previous and adapted… Again still not. Perfect but getting there… Get used to someone else. Coaching. Your son…… Like. I. Said… If they were as concerned for their child’s education As they were for hockey…..

  21. I really hope that the families claiming the cost is too high have done their research. I know that Upper Ottawa Valley AAA is 5500.00 no bus, no rooms and no food included! Practices are at least an hour and half away as well! AA 2000.00 same thing but some closer practices. Let me see if this is right for AAA hockey in Sault Ste Marie, it would cost 6500.00? Your kids transportation covered, rooms covered? Team fees, ice time, coaches, tournaments covered. Sounds like a smashing good deal to me, considering how far you have to travel for games! There’s been a lot of koolaid drinkers, with very limited facts and now there’s no AAA team for 04′ and true AA kids will be forced to house league! Sad! Do your research, I think you’ll find out how much hockey costs, you were actually saving money, saving vacation days, and parental commitment from the 4 years previous!

  22. Informed……your ignorance is what has led some of our most talented young players to leave the city and go elsewhere. Your attitude…..good….leave. I’m sure the Porco family is thanking you , however they still had to send their 13 yr old boy away for the proper direction to become a top pick. The top 3 players left the 03 team this year to play in different cities. The trend will continue as your ignorance is evident. Your attitude….who cares. This city has been questioning why sault major is not producing players……simply put, ignorance. In regards to kids education…once again ignorant. Parents spend more money in sault major then they will in their children’s post secondary education. That my friend is not smart.
    You want to call Doucette and Toms out for their knowledge in the game…,.simply put by true hockey people…NEVER FEAR THE PERSON THAT KNOWS, FEAR THE PERSON THAT THINKS HE KNOWS. It’s not a hard guess which one you are

  23. Donny.. Get your facts straight… Porco didn’t leave until he was 14….and his father wasn’t a coach past pee wee…. And they paid a lot more than what is being offered here…. Also. Where did I call doucette and Tom’s out… I stated fact…. Dave is a good coach who learned from those before him and adapted a program to make it successful.. This was not Jeff’s model… Also a student of the game..l… But still had issues as I stated…. I stated it and Tony stated it before… My way or the highway is no way to deal with things…and they were given options…. They are being lambasted over what they chose to do… And how they chose to do it….. No more.. No less…

    1. All,
      I’ve had the pleasure to coach and interact with Dave and Jeff’s team over the past few years. In my opinion, top notch guys and families in that group. I respect the way they teach the game and the “brand” of hockey they put on the ice. The young men (and woman) carried themselves as any parent could wish for. I think that you guys are not putting the kids first anymore…….shame. The kids just want to play hockey. If they are good players they will be found.

  24. Informed, you are correct. Parco was not a coach when he decided that his son needed more from a Hockey Organization. He was the AAA Development Coordinator for Sault Major. DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR – What Irony.

  25. Interesting how coaches from out of town teams have responded. This is the competition and they see what a home organization can’t. If the competition from the North, TC and Down South can see the positives/benefits from how the 04 team staff and parents operated a team successfully, why locally is this viewed as arrogant and selfish for wanting to continue to something comparable or dare for even better?
    My understanding is that conversations around “customer expectations” started 2 years ago with the 2003/2004 groups & Sault Major. There was plenty of time to gather information on what the future clients to this organization needed in order to be sold on the program. The organization chose to stay the same as many the client in the past just wrote the cheque. Clients are doing more research today and have more expectations then they ever have. (Regardless of weather you are purchasing a product or a service) This year the potential clients said they would not just write the cheque. There were many more client opportunities out there for the Minor Bantam AAA group other then the previous 04 AAA team.

    1. Ironic, very well said. It’s very sad that your home association (Sault Major?) let things get to this point. The 2004 team is full of great parents and had a top notch coaching staff.

      In the end the kids suffer and adults only point fingers. Your home association let your hockey community down.

  26. Finally a post that makes sense and speaks of truths. Well said Ironic.

    It’s very troubling that this has all transpired. Sault Major is to blame.

  27. I have no dog in this fight. I have no idea who makes decisions on what, who is on the board at Sault Major…I know nothing about the hockey politics in the Soo. I do know, however, that Dave Doucette and Jeff Toms are excellent coaches and are even better people. Some of the comments I have read were a bit shocking and I thought I would chime in to give an outsiders perspective.

    My son(2005) plays PW AA in Southern California. Ice costs are over $400/hour. Team dues range between $4000-5000 for 3 hours/week practice(28 week season) and 30 games(the majority of the team costs are for icetime)… $500-800 for a uniform package…. teams usually play an additional 4-5 tournaments at $250/player per tournament. Travel is about another $6,000-$10,000 per family. Most Anaheim Ducks PW AAA families will spend north of $20,000 this season. None of these totals include the $60/hour private lessons that most kids paticipate in once or twice a week. Coaches get paid anywhere from $1500-2500/month plus expenses to coach teams plus what they make doing private lessons. The costs are nuts BUT hopefully it helps people in the Soo feel better about what they are paying…it could be worse!

    Toms/Doucette issue:

    I was shocked to hear that Dave and Jeff would not be coaching the 2004 AAA Team this coming season after the success they have had with this team over the past few years.

    My son has skated with their 2004 group in the summers for the past 3 years. Cost was $20/player for a 2 hour(15-20 players)on ice skill session with Toms (former NHL’er), Doucette(former OHL’er) and sometimes Brad Baber(former OHL’er)….so I know they are not in it for the money!! They are in it for the kids! There were times when their own kids weren’t even at the skate but they would still show up and run things(when it is 80 and sunny outside!)….The knowledge, quality, professionalism, detail, and level of instruction was better than anything I have seen at the youth level…and yes there are many former pro’s coaching in SoCal. Coaching is “ok” in SoCal but not even close to what Dave Doucette and Jeff Toms put on the ice.

    These two guys don’t only care about their own kids hockey experience, they care about all of the kids hockey experience. They care about developing hockey players and creating a love for the game. That is exactly what they are doing. They put a bunch of time and effort in with my son knowing he will never play for their team or even in their city! My son looks forward to seeing these two guys every summer! I would be elated to have my son play on a team coached by Jeff and Dave. They are professional, dedicated, and experienced coaches.

    Lets forget about hockey for a second….what about Dave and Jeff as people? I have known Dave for 30 years and Jeff for 20 years. Both are successful professionals who both work to protect the people of Sault Ste. Marie daily in their every day jobs. They are obviously quite dedicated to the community. These are the types of people(some call them role models!)that parents and organizations should want coaching their kids!

    To toss everything they have to offer out the window because they have kids who play is just ignorant! There has to be a solution somewhere if it is not too late.

    I hope this all gets worked out for the kids! Sault Ste. Marie should have a 2004 AAA Team!

    Good Luck!

  28. I’m shocked and very angry at this situation. I was just made aware of this site and the status of the 2004 AAA team. Many people and organizations across the GTHL are now aware and talking about the situation.

    In my opinion, you’ll travel far and wide and not find a better team staff. All top notch and very approachable guys.

    It’s seldom a team from the NOHA can compete in GTHL events. The 2004 AAA team is an exception.

    Whoever in the Sault decided to take the prior coaching staff away just knows nothing about hockey.

    All of the GTHL is watching from a distance. Make every effort to fix this.

    1. DMF (Don Mills Flyers) – I commend you for supporting the past efforts of the former 2004 AAA team and shedding more insight on the caliber of the team staff and players. If you have read all of the above posts, some feel that Sault Ste Marie cannot produce AAA players. Supportive comments from the competition show that locally many people have blinders on and do not see what is required to be competitive in today’s hockey environment. I encourage more responses from past teams that the former 2004 AAA group have played against. Would this help? I am not sure but constructive feedback provides opportunities for growth and development.

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