Beavers at the bottom of the barrel

January 26, 2015

Just what is going on down Highway 17 East at Blind River?

At the very bottom of the nine-team Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League are the once-proud Blind River Beavers with one point from a record of 0-38-1. That’s right, one lousy point.

And as bad as things are on the ice in Blind River, it is a mess off the ice as well.

What has happened to the Beavers of Blind River? It used to be better, so much better.

In fact, in a seven-year span from 2004-2011, the Beavers produced six winning seasons and were the model of a small-market franchise.

But it has been all downhill since the 2010-2011 season.

Since then, the Beavers have produced records of 8-40-2 in 2011-2012, 13-27-8 in 2012-2013, 10-42-4 in 2013-2014 and 0-38-1 thus far in 2014-2015.

Add up the awful numbers since 2011-2012 and they compute to 31 wins, 147 losses and 15 overtime setbacks.

As Blind River is even worse than ever this season with its brutal record of 0-38-1 — the Beavers have scored only 73 goals while allowing 262 — the fan base in the Milltown area has taken a major hit with average crowds well below the 200 mark. Worse, corporate sponsorship and support is down and the Beavers bills are piling up.

To be sure, the Beavers have lost a number of key allies over the years beginning with former general manager Don Lees, who was also a major financial contributor through his Milltown Motors business.

Then there are those who were alienated by a faction of the Beavers Board of Governors — from another former general manager in Rusty Joncas to multiple community-minded sponsors and volunteers who finally had enough of the knives to the back and the kicks to the teeth.

What’s next for the Beavers?

If you listen to team president Bob Haworth, all is well with the Beavers.

If you listen to others, Haworth is so clueless that he thought the Beavers were owned by the Town of Blind River rather than by the not-for-profit organization that it actually is.

At any rate, Haworth is on record as saying that the Beavers will be back in Blind River in 2015-2016 and continue to be a part of the NOJHL.

Others aren’t so sure, saying that the Blind River franchise will be under new ownership in 2015-2016 and depart the NOJHL along with the Abitibi Eskimos and Mattawa Blackhawks for the Greater Metro Jr. Hockey League.

Another whisper has Blind River leaving the NOJHL for the fledgling Canadian International Hockey League where the Beavers would be travel partners with the Espanola Rivermen, Batchewana Attack and a new team in Sudbury.

Whatever the case, whatever the future direction, the Beavers have bottomed out — on the ice, in the board room and in the cash box.

What you think about “Beavers at the bottom of the barrel”

  1. The Board will be responsabul for the Beavers going outta business unless new Owner’s come in and leave the Noj. These people have NO CLUE.

    1. Toughtimes,

      I just e-mailed Joe and heard back from him.

      Yes, he’s in the hospital in Toronto, anxious to get out and back to work, as you would know.

      Thanks for the info. Joe is a good, old friend of mine, as you would also know.

      1. Randy , u need to investigate the departure of Don… not saying the change wasn’t needed but it was how it happened ( something unthinkable that Bob asked the kids) … and then to bring in Gallo what a joke he is … He tells everyone that he was part of hockey USA junior national team that is how he introduces himself… HE is a complete buffoon !!! Very abusive to the kids he cant coach himself out of a wet paper bag . Kids are leaving 3 left last weekend and more departures are coming this upcoming week … SAD SITUATION IN MY OPINION.

  2. I like the rumor about the eskis… They are also rumored to be moving to Timmins…
    How would they benefit by going to the Greater metro?

    1. Eskis move to Timmins would leave the door open for the Greater Metro League to move into Iroquois Falls.

    1. And you know this for a fact that Iroquois Falls will not have a team? (We are all aware about the major employer, by the way.) For the record, I did not say that I.F. will have a team anywhere. It is all conjecture, speculation.

  3. Good piece Randy you know how to say it.
    Excuse my poor choice of words but the Beavers need to be sold and the new Owner would have to get rid of the busy body mouthy old fish wifes that are on the Board. They have got rid of to many good people examples: Donnie, Rusty, Francis, Lea Ann, Elva, Robert Ambo and the list goes on and fans like Elaine, Marshal, the Gionettes and many many more.

  4. IMHO, Timmins is a very, very funny place when it comes to supporting anything. 45 K and no Jr. hockey, no concerts, etc……….the deep pockets that were rumoured to be interested a couple years ago appear to have no interest. Travel costs for the Eskis in the GMHL would be steep.

  5. Sorry Randy – don’t know for fact. Just speculatting with the major Employer leaving. So me bad as I should have stated that it was a guess

  6. i have always said that it was shocking that Timmins has no junior hockey. Population of 45,000 and what else is there to do in the winter. They should easily be able to attract 500 fans per game. If i was a potential junior hockey owner timmins would be the place that i would open up shop.

  7. Them poor Beavers ! man times have been tough for this team of late just Brutal ! still one of my favourite teams in the league though ! Keep fighting the good fight boys ! much respect for trying !

  8. Sounds to me like Gallo is making some progress with the team:
    TIMMINS – The Blind River Beavers remain the NOJHL’s only winless team following three more losses on the weekend.

    Having had an opportunity to see two of those three contests in person, it is hard to believe this squad has not been able to catch another team having a bad night at some point during the 2014-15 season.

    Under new coach Angelo Gallo, the Beavers are playing an in-your-face, gritty style of hockey that makes up for the fact that they don’t have any true offensive superstars on their roster.

    Against the run-and-gun Crunch, Saturday night in Cochrane, the Beavers lost 7-4 but after spotting the home side a 3-0 first-period lead, they battled back to make it a 5-4 hockey game at one point, before allowing the home side a pair of late goals.

    Sunday afternoon in Iroquois Falls, Blind River was in the game through two periods, before allowing the Eskimos a pair of third-period goals in a 4-2 loss.

    Blind River started its three-game road trip with a 3-1 loss to the Gold Miners in Kirkland Lake Friday night, the one game I did not see them play this weekend.

    It is interesting to note that the Beavers never once held a lead in any of those three hockey games.

    Having to play catchup hockey is never easy, especially for a team that does not have a lot of offensive punch.

    The Beavers have only one player on their roster, Dante Juris (30, 10-7-17, 29), with 10 or more goals this season and seven of his goals were scored with the Powassan Voodoos before he was acquired in a trade on Jan. 7.

    And they do not have any players averaging a point or more per game. Nathan Johnson (34, 8-13-21, 27) who is scoring at a rate of 0.62 points per game is the team’s best.

    Despite this shortcoming, the Beavers do not play like a team sporting a 0-36-0-1 record.

    The Beavers did not display any quit on the weekend and Gallo appears to have his players believing in themselves, a pretty significant accomplishment for a guy who claims he is “just here to open the doors.”

    Instead of lamenting the mistakes his players made that contributed to their three most recent losses, the new coach opted — rightly or wrongly — to put the blame for the defeats on the refereeing.

    Such a strategy might lighten his pocket book, but his players likely appreciate not having their errors being the focus of post-game discussions.

    In 90 NOJHL games with the Beavers, Gagnon had 10 wins, 75 losses and 5 overtime losses before the Sault Ste Marie native decided it was time to hand the reigns to interim head coach Angelo Gallo…….I’m surprised it took that long, a 0.125 winning perentage is not good!

  9. Running his players in full equipment after a game does not send the signal that it was a refereeing problem . Actions speak louder than words.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *