SIJHL Sioux Lookout Flyers Suspend Operations

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SIJHL Sioux Lookout Flyers Suspend Operations October 8, 2012 9:43 AM

A Tier II Canadian Junior Hockey Program has suspended operations. The Sioux Lookout Flyers lost their Head Coach on September 29th with the resignation of Derek Levanen, and the team was done just four days later.

Speaking with Levanen this weekend he explained there were more than just recruiting problems for the Flyers.

"I did not get paid all summer. I am still waiting to get paid, and that doesnt seem likely now." Said Levanen "We did our best to recruit through scouts in North America, but our recruiting budget was so small our staff could not be effective. Its a shame really. But we have done our best to get all the players we did have on to other teams and we feel good about that effort."

It has been no secret in the hockey community that the Flyers were facing challenges in securing enough players to fill their roster. The question on everyones mind has been; Why would a Tier II team have any problem recruiting? There does not appear to be any answer for this. In the dozens of camps TJHN staff attended over the summer, there was never a Tier II team that did not have at least 60 players in camp. Clearly something went wrong in Sioux Lookout.

SIJHL Commissioner Ron Whitehead stated “My understanding is it’s a combination of recruiting and some sort of a mix-up between the coach and the ownership group. They found themselves short of players with an inability to get other players in a timely manner, so it looks like they’re going to take a leave of absence for a year and restructure."

If a Head Coach is recruiting players, then what kind of mix up could there be with the ownership group? Not getting paid for the summer could be part of the "mixup".

Looking at the roster that was assembled, a total of 16 players were available to play. Definitely not the optimum number of players, but enough to continue as more players are picked up. Its done every year in nearly every league. So why suspend operations after playing three games?

The Board of Directors issued the following statement:

"The Sioux Lookout Flyers regret to inform the public that the Club has suspended hockey operations for the 2012-13 hockey season. Due to a series of unfortunate events our organization has found itself in a position in which it is unable to continue in a competitive and professional manner for the season. The Club has worked with all remaining players to help them secure spots on other teams for the hockey season. We believe it was in the best interest of our fans, volunteers and sponsors to take a year leave of absence to restructure and hopefully come back next season stronger than ever. The Flyers sincerely regret this and would like to thank the Town of Sioux Lookout, our fans, community sponsors and Billet families for their loyalty to the Flyers over the last four years. We would also like to thank our volunteers and our Players for their hard work and dedication as we look towards a strong successful future within the game. The Sioux Lookout Flyers Hockey Club again apologizes for any inconvenience that this may have caused."

The SIJHL has moved on and would like to see the Flyers back next season. Perhaps Mr. Whitehead should look into the problems in Sioux Lookout, figure out exactly what when wrong, and develop a plan to make sure it doesnt happen again.

By Joseph Kolodziej

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