Lakers desperate for billet homes

Joey Payeur

Having players move to a community without having anywhere for them to live is far from ideal.
It also doesn’t send the message Fort Frances Lakers’ executives were hoping to get from the community.
The pressure is on for local residents to step up to be billets for members of the Lakers for the upcoming SIJHL season as the team opens training camp tomorrow.
“It’s coming down to crunch time,” said Lakers’ president Milt Strachan.
“We’re five beds short for the guys if we have a 25-man roster, as we usually do,” he noted.
“One of the most important parts of having a junior hockey team is to have homes to put the kids in,” Strachan stressed.
“If we can’t find them, it opens the idea up in our minds that the community doesn’t really want a junior hockey team.
“A couple of billets from past years have opted not to do it this year, not for negative reasons but just by their own choice,” he explained.
“We reached out to a number of people but have not had any definite responses.”
Strachan said if there aren’t enough accommodations for the players, the roster won’t be as plentiful as hoped.
“Kids are coming as we speak and will be here by [tomorrow],” he noted.
“They’re going to need homes or we’re going to have to shorten our roster,” he warned.
Strachan also noted the problem caught team officials off-guard.
“With our financial situation being what it is, we were concentrating on that and the billet situation caught up to us,” he admitted.
“We didn’t get a jump on it at all.”
Billets are paid $400 per month to house players, with this year being the first time the players have to lay out the full amount themselves.
“In the past, we used to cover all of it and the last few years, it’s been half between the team and the players,” noted Strachan.
“But the kids paying the whole thing is becoming the norm in at least half the country,” he stressed.
“It’s all related to the costs of running a team.”
Those wanting to offer their homes to billet players, or wanting more information, can contact Mary Polz (274-7264) or Jane Johnstone (274-5228).