North Stars forced to take leave from GNMLWednesday, September 04, 2013 by: Brad Coccimiglio
After being a mainstay at the AAA Midget level locally for years, the Soo North Stars program will not ice a team this season in the Great North Midget League.
Following a meeting with players, parents and team staff on Wednesday night at the Essar Centre, the team made the announcement shortly after 7 p.m.
The team had struggled to attract players to their tryouts scheduled over the past two weeks though the decision wasn’t officially made until Wednesday night. As late as Tuesday night, the team still had intentions of playing the season despite the low numbers but meetings over the past few days eventually led to the decision.
The situation differs slightly from that of the Kirkland Lake Legion 87’s, who recently folded their organization in the GNML.
As a league, the GNML allows member teams to take a one-year leave from the league, which is what the North Stars are doing. Kirkland Lake had previously taken a one-year leave. Kirkland Lake had found themselves in a similar situation with low player numbers being an issue at tryouts.
North Stars General Manager George Parsons and coach Don Gagnon said they would help players who had been at tryouts try to find an alternative place to play this season, be it locally or out of town.
Sault Major has to re-apply for AAA status for next season for the North Stars, but the process isn’t expected to be an issue when the time comes.
The team issued a release regarding the situation late Wednesday night.
This year the North Stars have had uncharacteristically low numbers at tryouts. There are many reasons that have led up to this and have now left us in an extremely precarious position. Most reasons beyond our control and also some very narrow minded, selfish and uncooperative midget-aged parents. We simply do not have the players to ice a hockey team for the 2013-14 Great North Midget League season.
We have exhausted all efforts to try and obtain additional players and, regrettably we have asked the Commissioner and Governors of the Great North Midget League for a one (1) year leave of absence.
This is a terrible blow to the players and parents who did support us and committed to playing with us for the 2013-14 season. We would like to thank them for their hard work and commitment. However with the low numbers of players it is impossible to put those players at risk.
This will also have an impact on the local economy since six GNML teams will not be travelling to Sault Ste. Marie over the course of the 2013-14 hockey season.
This is a very difficult announcement to make considering all of the years of successful hockey with the Legion/Carlucci’s/North Star teams. Numerous players have benefited greatly from the organization and the Great North Midget League.
For this season (2013-14) only the Sault Ste. Marie North Stars and Soo Hockey Club will not operate a team in the Great North Midget League. However we will be re-grouping and starting right away on building for the 2014-15 Season. We would like to thank our staff this year who have worked hard to bring a new look to the team.
We would like to thank all of the parents and players who have supported us over the years, it is greatly appreciated. We would also like to thank all of the generous community businesses who supported the organization year after year. Your support is greatly appreciated.