The word regarding the Flin Flon Bombers’ bid to host the 2021 National Junior A Championship (NJAC) has come down - and according to team executives, it’s not looking good.
At the team’s annual general meeting on May 29, both head coach and general manager Mike Reagan and team president-elect Travis Rideout said they had received information from Hockey Canada that Flin Flon was not named to the shortlist of potential locations for the event.
Reagan said three locations had been confirmed last week by an inside source involved with the bidding. They include Penticton, B.C., Salmon Arm, B.C. and Estevan, Sask.
“We haven’t got a phone call from Hockey Canada. In saying that, I think it’s safe to say that we haven’t moved on to the next phase,” Reagan said.
“It’s very disappointing. There’s a lot of hours, days, hard work that we put into it. I want to thank the committee that we formed to do a lot of the work. It’s disappointing because we all know how successful that would have been here. We know it would be a big shot in the arm for this community, especially with everything that we know about what’s going on over here,” Reagan added, pointing in the direction of the Hudbay compound
A committee of volunteers, including several current and past executives with the Bombers, was struck to help organize a bid and potential tournament in case Flin Flon was selected. Now that the bid has reportedly been denied, the Bombers will have to change plans.
“The last couple days here have been a little bit heartbreaking when it comes to that. We put a lot of time and effort and emotion into that and we were happy about it,” said team president Travis Rideout, who was acclaimed to his post later in the meeting.
“We had two plans – a plan in the direction that we go in if we were to receive the national championship and a path for the direction that we’re going to go without the national championship,” said Reagan.
With Flin Flon reportedly out of the running, Reagan and Rideout said the team would attempt to reach the national title tournament the old fashioned way; by building a championship-calibre team that could compete both provincially and nationally.
It’s a tall order for the Bombers, who have not won a league championship since 1993 or played in a national-level tournament since Flin Flon hosted the NJAC (then known as the Royal Bank Cup) in 2001.
“The plan is to take a serious run in the next two years. I know that we’ve lost a lot of players, but in saying that, recruiting has gone really well,” said Reagan.
“I know there’s a lot of naysayers in the community, but when you see through all the B.S., there was more positive than not,” Rideout said.
The team’s staff will remain nearly the same from last season. Head coach and GM Reagan recently re-signed a two-year contract extension, while assistant coach Cole McCaig will stay with the team and continue to serve as the club’s marketing coordinator. Athletic therapist and equipment manager Jason Savill will also stay with the team for the upcoming season.
The only change will be the departure of assistant coach and assistant general manager Garry Childerhose, who signed an agreement to be the head coach of the Kindersley Klippers.
“It is what it is, you know, but in signing Mike and in signing Cole and eventually having Jason sign here again and our scouting staff, I think the basis for another two years, regardless if we have the NJAC or not, it is the same focus. We’re geared towards winning and that’s all you can ask,” Rideout said.