Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Smoke Eaters Post Loss; Look To 2012-13

The Trail Smoke Eaters Hockey Club Society has announced expenditure over revenue, or loss of $31,035 for the year ending March 31, 2012 at tonight's annual general meeting in Trail. The team's struggles on the ice last season have been well-documented, and the lack of results on ice resulted in losses at the gate and seasson tickets.

But it's not all bad news. Trail saved over $70,000 on travel last season and while some of those savings were negated by bus costs, the fact the team is in possession of their own vehicle and no longer reliant on charter service is a big step forward in terms of keeping rising travel costs down.

Smoke Eaters president Tom Gawryletz called the decline in revenue a "huge disappointment" (the team's overall gains were down about $94,000 last season when compared to 2010-11, but admits given the team's record, things "could have been a lot worse."

"To make it work we need to put a better product on the ice," Gawryletz added, "and our coaching staff is already hard at work to make sure that happens."

There was also considerable discussion on the (lack of) local players on Trail's roster (with only one greater Trail product barring APs). There is definitely an element of the fanbase that I'm sure would love to see the Smokies made up of predominantly Trail-born players, but is that realistic? Let's examine the three other community-owned teams and take note of the local products on their 2011-12 year-end rosters:

Merritt Centennials (34-18-2-6, reached Interior final): 1 - Payton Schaefer

Powell River Kings (40-16-2-2, reached BCHL final): 1 - Sean Maguire

Prince George Spruce Kings (33-21-2-4, reached Interior semi-final): 2 - Sean Landrey, Tyson Witala.

Now let's examine the West Kootenay-born players who were on a BCHL roster to end the 2011-12 season.

Castlegar (2): Aaron Hadley (Vernon), Ryan Renz (Vernon).

Montrose (1): Luke Bertolucci (Trail).

Nelson (1): Adam Wheeldon (Trail).

Shoreacres (1): Joren Johnson (Trail).

Trail (4): Steve Koshey (Surrey), Logan Proulx (Cowichan Valley), Travis St. Denis (Penticton), Danny Vlanich (Langley).

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for having local players and believe there are several Trail, and by extension West Kootenay products (like Johnson and Wheeldon) that will play prominent roles on this team next season. And there really should not be any blame, in my opinion, attributed to either the Smokies for lack of perceived effort in recruiting nor the kids themselves for playing elsewhere. That said, the players that do represent this team, and this community that come from all points east, west, north and south do so with pride and their contributions to this franchise shouldn't be seen as any less important.

Tip o' the Cap: There is a slight reduction in the number of board members for the 2012-13 season, as vice-president Cory Ross did not seek re-election. Ross had been on the Smokies board for six seasons and invested thousands of hours in the day-to-day operations of the team, but will be stepping aside (somewhat) to spend more time with his family and minor hockey coaching responsibilities. Thanks for all the hard work and I'm sure we'll see you 'round the rink nonetheless this fall!

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