Strachan talks trade almost 400 minutes

Mitch Calvert

It only took 240 calls and 381 minutes of talking over the two days leading into Saturday’s CJHL trade deadline, but head coach Wayne Strachan and the Fort Frances Jr. Sabres managed to add two pieces to the puzzle before the clock struck midnight.
Talk about a cellphone bill.
Brock Tailfeathers, acquired from Fernie of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, suited up for the weekend road series against Fort William.
“Brock is the cousin of Kalib Thunderchief and came recommended from the Quesnel Millionaires of the BCHL,” Strachan noted.
“We envision Brock being a player somewhat like Rod Bouchard [last year], a late addition to our roster at the trade deadline,” he added. “Brock can play both forward and defence.
“We had him on forward this past weekend, and we will evaluate his progress through this week of practice to see just where he will fit in best on our roster.”
The Sabres also added Sterling Bear, who had 20 points and 173 penalty minutes in 32 games with the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard. Strachan feels he can be a top six forward who will contribute offensively, play a rugged game, and add an element of toughness to an already physical team.
Despite managing to pull off a couple of deals, Strachan admitted there were many more trades on the table that fell through prior to Saturday’s deadline.
“Trade deadline day was one of the longest days of my life,” Strachan remarked. “If I had hair, it all would’ve been pulled out. Nobody wanted to pull the trigger on a deal, many teams think they can win, and it was a long day of getting to know different people on the phone.
“Grant Perreault [the Sabres’ director of scouting] and I talked to almost every team in the BCHL to the MJHL, and many teams to the east all the way to the Maritimes.”
The Sabres had a deal done with the Dauphin Kings of the MJHL, but the player coming this way refused to report. The same could be said of potential deals with the MJHL’s Winnipeg Saints for a top defenceman, as well as with the SJHL’s Flin Flon Bombers, La Ronge Ice Wolves, and Battleford North Stars.
“It really is troubling that the teams of the CJHL are letting the players dictate to them where they will play and where they won’t play,” Strachan lamented.
The Sabres also had potential deals with Orangeville and Lindsay of the OJHL, but much of the same problems surfaced.
“In the end we were looking for a top six forward. We addressed that in getting Sterling,” Strachan said. “We had deals to help our depth on forward, but nothing worked out in the end.
“We can sign three players up until Feb. 10 to help our depth up front,” he added. “We will be looking for these players.”
There also were a few current Sabres who were hoping to be sent packing, but that never materialized, either.
“There were guys that asked to be moved, it isn’t a secret to our team,” Strachan noted. “But in the end, the deals that were offered for them were not what we wanted.
“I believe these players will still be committed to playing here and winning this year,” he stressed. “One of them was one of our best players Saturday night [against Fort William].
“He knows what he needs to do to help the team win.”
Despite some of the internal issues that have surfaced of late, the Sabres have proven to have good camaraderie and a solid team with decent depth that still can compete for the Bill Salonen Cup as SIJHL champs.
“We have two good scoring lines. We have two other lines that check well and that can produce offensively,” Strachan remarked. “Our defence has been good, for the most part, this season and our goaltending is solid.
“We are a team that needs to be a team,” he stressed. “Our success will go as far as our team attitude goes. If we come every game and play as a team, our success can be endless. If we don’t, then our year could end earlier than it should.
“We have the ability to go far as a team, and I think every guy in our room believes this.”