To go by some of the chatter on social media, the Slave Lake Icedogs project is falling apart, never had a chance of succeeding anyway, and nobody in their right mind would have anything to do with it.
Hearing that sort of thing, it’s no wonder some people are starting to wonder how they can get the money back they invested in season tickets.
But that’s only one way of looking at it. Another comes from Brian Noad, who has just signed on as the Icedogs’ head coach. Local hockey people will recognize Noad as the very successful bench boss of the ‘AA’ Midgets in Slave Lake back in 2014 or thereabouts. He has since moved to Drayton Valley and has been in or around the world of hockey since. Last week he spoke to The Leader about the prospects for Junior hockey in Slave Lake this season.
“We’re going to ice a decent hockey team,” he said, “and bring some hockey back to Slave Lake.”
Noad said he plans to arrive in town on the 18th of this month. He’ll certainly have his hands full.
“We’re going to move forward,” he said.
Noad is aware the project has detractors. The ‘pay-to-play’ system, for example, seems to have its share of skeptics. It is not the traditional way of running an amateur hockey team (or league), but it is being done, and successfully, Noad said. If people are willing to pay to play (or their parents are), “why not?” he said. On the other hand, “If some superstar can’t afford to pay? We’ll find a way.”
Lauren Barr is the general manager and owner of the Icedogs. She tells The Leader the team is going ahead “no matter what happens.”
Besides hiring Noad as coach, she is looking for billets for the players who will be arriving this month.
“Fees are paid,” she says, “franchise and league. I’m securing player contracts and making sure our interests are protected. And I’ve moved to Slave Lake.”
The Icedogs will play in the West Division of the GMHL, Barr continues, and its CAO is a fellow named Bryan Keller.
Getting back to the new head coach, Noad acknowledges that he rubbed some people the wrong way with his tough coaching style when he was last in Slave Lake.
“I’m pretty demanding,” he says. “You need to have both feet in the game.”
He promises any team he coaches “is going to work their asses off and win some hockey games.”
If you don’t give 100 per cent, Noad says, you can’t expect the same ice time as those who do give everything they’ve got.