Back on March 26, the Flin Flon Bombers ended their season with a heartbreaking loss to the Battlefords North Stars. Last week, the team suffered another loss, although this one may be slightly easier for fans to stomach.
The team lost over $3000 last year according to financial details revealed at the team’s annual general meeting at the Flin Flon Community Hall May 29.
In total, the team’s unaudited financial statement showed the Bombers ended the season with a loss of $3,181.47. The team pulled in a total of $585,859.47 throughout the year, including more than $150,000 from corporate sponsors, more than $130,000 on souvenir sales, more than $20,000 on beer sales and nearly $200,000 on total ticket sales. Expenses totalled $589,040.94.
“When you look at this bottom line, we lost $3,181.47, but I want to make a couple of points,” said David Brooks, Bomber treasurer.
Brooks said a key reason for the loss was because of a delay in pursuing sponsorship payment from Hudbay.
“They donate a rather significant dollar value to us and it usually comes in as early as October, some years in late April, where we go and ask for that money to help us get through the year. This is the first year that, as of today, we have not gone to Hudbay and asked for their sponsorship money. In years gone by, that money that they donate would already be on this statement and it’s not,” Brooks said.
“That means we were able to run the entire year funding ourselves, fundraising and whatever else and still come up that tiny bit short.”
One of the biggest financial hits the team suffered was in the form of repairs to the team’s bus. Last season, use of the bus incurred more than $50,000 in total expenses for new tires, safety checks and overall usage.
“She’s an old girl, but she still runs,” Brooks said.
“We’re in year seven of the bus and we used to spend anywhere from $110,000 to $130,000 on rental for a bus to get the guys to and from the games. We did a rough estimate and we’ve probably spent about $132,000 on the bus in that seven years on repairs and maintenance in keeping it going,” Brooks said.
“In the long run, we’ve saved $450,000 by not paying somebody else, but by owning our own. Having said that, when you get those $25,000 bills when the transmission doesn’t work, yeah, it hurts. There’s no doubt about it.”
Brooks went on to say the team’s ownership of the bus made sense.
Another $10,000 was spent on “player incentives”, mostly made up of bringing in goalie coaching for Bomber netminders and SAT prep for post-secondary-bound players.
Brooks mentioned that the team received $121,000 in contra agreements with sponsors, covering utilities and equipment.
“If you take what the total revenue is and you add that contra and compare its dollar value, that’s $266,000 worth of contract cash that comes in from all the corporate sponsors,” he said.
Brooks also added the team had around $25,000 in surplus unsold merchandise.
“That doesn’t show on (the financial statements) as well,” Brooks said.
“We have $25,000 worth of cost inventory that we’re going to go and sell over the summer and into next year.”
The Bombers’ annual league fee payment to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) of around $15,000 was also not included in the statement. While the league fee may seem high at first glance, fees to play in the SJHL are less than any other Junior ‘A’ league in western Canada. In fact, they’re less than half the fees paid by teams in the BCHL.
“That should be all paid off before we even drop the puck for the first game of the year,” said Brooks.
“Would we want to see a thousand or a hundred thousand on the bottom? Sure we would. It’s not inexpensive to operate a team, having said where our location is. It costs more money when some nights we spend an extra night or have an extra two meals depending on where the team is.“
The team was also able to raise just more than $20,000 through merchandise and a donation drive for the relief fund following last year’s Humboldt Broncos bus crash.
Few changes are coming to the Bombers’ executive board and top jobs.
Travis Rideout was acclaimed to his second year as team president after no other meeting attendees mounted a challenge.
Brooks stepped down as the team’s treasurer, with both Adam Ricard and Janice Slipp stepping forward to fill the post. After a vote was held including board members and attendees, Slipp won the spot.
Five two-year positions and three one-year positions were open heading into the meeting due to a number of expiring volunteer appointments.
Chris Gwin, Marty LeDoux, Kelly Mansell, Ricard and Rob Simon each stepped up to fill the two-year spots, but none of the five suggested candidates stepped forward to fill one of the remaining one-year posts on the board. The meeting ended with the three vacant one-year posts on the board.
Incumbent board members Tijana Clarke, Eldred Dicks, Carissa Mason, Glen Rideout, Emily Robinson, Slipp and Lisa Tower will each serve the second year of their two-year terms, with Cal Huntley and Tim Babcock each staying on the board representing Hudbay and the City of Flin Flon.
In an end-of-season update, head coach and general manager Mike Reagan said he was excited about the team’s next steps, but kept his cards close to his chest on potential new commits to the program.
Reagan discussed the ins and outs of the past season from his perspective, from the high of competing for the top spot in the league to the low near the end of the season, where half of the team’s starting defencemen were sidelined with injuries.
Reagan also discussed the team’s seven-game marathon series against the Battlefords North Stars, during which the Bombers battled from a 3-0 series deficit, won three straight games including a triple-overtime Game 5, only to lose Game 7 on the road with a banged-up lineup.
Reagan said that heading into the decisive Game 7, three key players – forwards Chrystopher Collin and Ethan Daniels and defender Calvon Boots – were injured, with Collin and fellow Bomber Franklin suffering from food poisoning.
“It says a lot about the character of the guys to be able to come back and force a game seven,” Reagan said.
“Going into Game 7, I know a lot of you were out there, helping send off the boys, and I really appreciate that. It’s something special that Flin Flon’s done a tremendous job of. It’s kind of embarrassing with other teams trying to do the same thing in other communities. It’s just not the same, but it’s a credit to all of you and the fans. I know the guys were really fired up late.”
The team was left undermanned and depleted for an elimination game against the eventual league champions.
“I take a look at a guy like [now-former Bomber] Caleb Moretz, who is in phenomenal shape – I don’t know if I’ve coached a kid in such incredible shape – and he was exhausted. It’s tough when you see a guy that is in that great of shape and he’s exhausted. It’s a scary feeling,” the coach said.
Reagan confirmed both of the team’s main goaltenders, Jacob Delorme and Gabriel Waked, will return next season, along with most eligible returnees except defenceman Vaughan Bamford, who has accepted a scholarship offer from an NCAA Division III school in Illinois.
“Going forward, I’m not going to tip my hat up to what we’re doing with the goaltending situation. We think we’ve got two great individuals and two capable starting goaltenders that are both going to demand ice time and the positive is, I can honestly say that Gabriel and Jacob are probably one of the best tandems that I’ve had as far as relationship wise. Both are supportive of each other and they’re really good kids. So that’s a real positive,” Reagan said.
With several returning defencemen and two returning goaltenders, Reagan said the team’s emphasis for recruiting this year would focus on forwards. Four of the team’s top five scorers last season – Nate Hooper, Brandson Hein, Daylan Marchi and Moretz – are ineligible to return to the team. Out of the team’s top ten scorers last year, only four – Collin, Donavan Houle-Villeneuve, Vincent Nardone and Franklin – are likely to return for next season.
“I’ve said this every year during my time up here. When you lose players, there’s opportunity for other guys to step up. We really believe that there’s guys that are going to be great players for us next year. I think the way we win hockey games is going to have to be different, but I also think with our strength of our goaltending and with our (defensive) core, we might have to take a page out of the Nipawin Hawks play book as far as the way we win hockey games,” said Reagan, referring to the Hawks’ defence and goaltending-heavy style that has proven successful in recent years.
“I’m confident that we’ll find the forwards that can score enough goals for us to win hockey games as well.”
At the time of the meeting, the Bombers had announced four new commits to the program – forwards Mason Kaspick, Tristan Lemyre, Shayde Peterson and defender Jack Craycroft.