At the crossroads in Blind River

May 11, 2015

Over a five-year period, from 2006 until 2011, the Blind River Beavers were a program of consistency with five straight winning records that averaged 26 victories per campaign.

Since then, though, the Beavers have been the worst team in the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League with an awful record of 31-160-15 over the past four seasons.

To be sure, all is not well with a franchise that has struggled mightily since the winning seasons under long-departed coaches Todd Stencill and Jim Capy.

The Beavers reached an all-time low during the recently-completed, 2014-2015 season by going winless en route to an embarrassing record of 0-51-1.

A loyal fan base in small-market Blind River has dwindled and there are financial issues that add up to tens of thousands of dollars in money owing to the town and to the league itself.

In fact, the Beavers still owe substantial, outstanding league fees from the 2014-2015 season that are slated to be paid in full to the NOJHL by June 1.

Being in financial arrears is not unusual for the Beavers organization.

Three years ago, former general manager Rusty Joncas inherited a financial mess only to turn that situation around with the help of since-departed team president Stuart Campbell.

But Joncas became so disenchanted and so incensed with the meddling ways of the Beavers board of directors that he announced his resignation as GM in stunning fashion late in the 2012-2013 season — while guesting on the Hockey North Show that I host on ESPN 1400 Radio.

Joncas departed the Beavers for the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners and in the role of assistant general manager/player recruitment, helped KL win the 2013-2014 NOJHL championship.

At any rate, as the Beavers desperately hope to reverse their losing ways on and off the ice, a new president and altered board of governors was recently elected.

But as the NOJHL is moving forward with new, relocated, re-named and returning franchises a la the Timmins Rock, Iroquois Falls Eskimos, French River Rapids, Rayside-Balfour Canadiens, Espanola Express and the Michigan Soo Eagles, Blind River is at the crossroads of existence.

The Beavers are not out of the woods.

What you think about “At the crossroads in Blind River”

  1. Just 3 weeks left to pay off the debt. What happens if they don’t pay up in full? Extended deadline or no longer in the league?

  2. Not a lot of positive talk around town about the Beavers that is for sure. Way to tell the truth RR!

  3. Yes, it sounds like a hole to dig out of, also sound like former staff put club there.
    Hopefully with the new positive energy and support of the community, they will survive to give there up and coming local boys a chance to play for the team they have watched from the stands.

  4. it will hard to watch the beavers, and pay money to do so, after watching the nahl in Soo Michigan.

    1. Really?

      Good fans pay to watch their own team play.

      Besides, the Beavers have known to bring about 35-40 of their fans to games in the Soo.

  5. Mike2….yes there is a gap between the NAHL and the NOJHL (IN MY OPINION) but not nearly as sizable as you imagine it to be. Both provide good quality entertainment and while the NAHL may have more D 1 caliber prospects, the NOJHL has also been quietly turning out some good D 3 players mixed in with some D 1 prospects. Neither are the OHL but fans in Soo Michigan wont really notice much of a decline in entertainment between the N.A. and N.O.

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