On shaky ground

Fort Frances always has prided itself as a “hockey town,” ­but just how deep that pride runs is now being put to the test.
The summer-long saga over the future of the Fort Frances Jr. Sabres took another twist this week with word of a push to run the team as a non-profit, community-owned enterprise for this coming season, which is scheduled to start Sept. 17 with a home game against the defending SIJHL champion Fort William North Stars—a scant three weeks away.
It may be a next-to-impossible deadline to meet, especially considering the team currently doesn’t have any players, but give full credit to head coach Wayne Strachan and director of scouting Grant Perreault for at least trying to save Junior ‘A’ hockey here.
The $64,000 question is whether local residents—and businesses—will put their wallets where their mouths are to do the same.
There’s no doubt having a Junior ‘A’ squad in town has its benefits. It means money for the Civic Centre’s coffers through ice rental for games and practices, some jobs for those involved with the squad and on game day at the arena, and a potential source of revenue for local businesses when visiting teams come to play.
It also offers local players an opportunity to continue lacing up the blades for a few more years here at home.
More intangible, but equally important, is the team gives residents—young and old, from all walks of life—something to cheer for. A common bond, in effect, that serves to bring us together at a time when a sense of community has been decidedly waning.
We do have a storied hockey history. We still revere, to this day, the Fort Frances Canadians—even though it’s been 57 years since they captured the Allan Cup way back in 1952. And we proudly remember the three provincial titles our Muskie boys’ hockey team has captured over the years.
Whether we’ll have a storied hockey future is what’s definitely on shaky ground these days.