Patience a needed virtue with new teams

The hallmarks of any successful franchise are patience and trust between the team and its fan base—two items in short supply around here where winning often takes precedence over development and learning.
The Fort Frances Lakers are laying a foundation this season that should pay off down the road, but they can’t do it without significant local support.
The Junior ‘A’ squad features just two returning players from last season’s outfit at this juncture, so expecting head coach Wayne Strachan and company to engineer a quick turnaround with a revamped lineup is a tad unrealistic.
They won’t stink up the joint, but expecting them to be battling for top spot shouldn’t be expected, either.
Will Fort Frances support this team through thick and thin?
An archived article came across my desk this week that was dated Jan. 7, 1971. It talked about the town’s storied history in senior hockey, but also noted the need to move on from the past and establish new crowning achievements.
Supporting teams now will pay dividends in the future.
“Do you remember when the Fort Frances Canadians first operated as a senior team in the old Iron Range League,” the letter, written by Ken Egan, began.
“If you do, you’ll recall how they struggled for many years and couldn’t make any headway,” he continued. “Then one day, a fellow named Alex Sinclair laced on his Automobile D’s and skated that team to the championship of the league. . .
“Then came a fellow named Gordon Fraser to lead this team down the Allan Cup trail,” Egan recalled. “He knew the game and got results, but it didn’t all happen that quick.”
That’s not to say the Lakers will struggle for multiple seasons or skate to a record similar to that of the Sioux Lookout Flyers from a season ago. There is some bona fide talent assembled on this team—but growing pains must be assumed, as well.
Egan’s real purpose to writing that letter back in 1971 was to draw attention to the new high school hockey program and gain support for its cause.
“The team name is different and so are the players, but the name of the game is the same,” Egan wrote.
“These Muskies are new and will need some time as all good teams do,” Egan stressed. “But make no mistake—they’ve got what it takes except maybe some support from you.”
The town finds itself in a similar spot nearly 40 years later, with a new breed of players at both the junior and senior levels looking to gain the support of the community.
The Lakers will ice a team ripe with young local talent who will have every chance to show they belong. And community support in whatever capacity, whether it’s through volunteering, sponsorship, or ticket purchases, will go a long way to ensuring their success over the long haul.
Given everything that has been said about the team over the last few months off the ice, the Lakers’ players must be excluded from that criticism.
They are new to the situation here, but the big challenge will be getting these players to buy in and harness that negative stuff from the previous regime and turn it into positive results on the scoreboard.
It would certainly make for one heck of a story if they could.
The new local senior men’s squad, the Thunderhawks, will be more established with an older lineup, but expecting an Allan Cup in their inaugural season is just as far-fetched.
Establishing a team that one day can emulate the success of the hallowed ’52 Canadians should be the long-term goal.
The money raised for both teams will stay entirely in the community to help build a winner here. Fort Frances must help these teams build towards the future with a clean slate.
Being proud of a championship win in 1952 is something to latch onto, but getting back to those heights in the present day should be the new focus.
The community must move on.
So be patient, hockey fans. The winning you expect will come—but only with your help.
• • •
Lori Leduc, the daughter of Roger and Dorese Harrison of Sioux Narrows, ran, swam, and biked her way to a 27th-place finish at the 2009 International Triathlon Union World Championship triathlon at Australia’s Gold Coast over the weekend.
Leduc, who now resides in Alberta, finished in a time of 2:23:22 in the female aged 35-39 category competing against 77 of the best triathletes in the world.
Fellow Canadian Suzanne Chandler took first in the category with a time of 2:08:54.
• • •
Steve Arpin’s first go on a road course ended prematurely last weekend.
Arpin was forced out of the ARCA RE/MAX Series South Jersey Building Trades 150 at the New Jersey Motorsports Park after just 14 laps due to transmission problems.
Arpin sits eighth in the point standings with 3,615 with just three events to go.
The next stop on the ARCA circuit is the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA Fall Classic at Salem Speedway this Saturday.
• • •
Molly Carlson wrapped up her busy diving season with a fourth-place finish in the three-metre springboard at the recent Pan American Diving Championships in Calgary, Alta.
Carlson finished with a total of 226.05 points while U.S. diver Brooke Madden claimed gold with 247.40.
The championships welcomed 200 participants from eight countries competing in four age classes.
• • •
The Thunderhawks’ senior men’s hockey team will be hosting tryouts this Friday through Sunday (Sept. 18-20).
Friday’s ice session is from 8:15-10:15 p.m., Saturday’s from 4:15-6:15 p.m., and Sunday’s from 12:15-2:15 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena.
A cost of $50 per player is requested to cover the ice-time fees.

Posted in Uncategorized