League nixes motion to expel Junior A Raiders
Lacrosse: Okotoks franchise safe after threats to eliminate team
By: By Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 09, 2013 06:00 am
Supporters of the Okotoks Junior A Raiders can breathe easy as the organization will be back on the floor for the 2013 season.
The Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League (RMLL) board of directors elected not to support a motion from the Junior A division to kick the Raiders out of the league, as per an RMLL press release on Dec. 29.
“I’m pleased that they have come to their senses and realized that it would be unjust and that there is no cause,” said Raiders owner David Fehr. “Clearly to me and everybody that I’ve spoken to there just isn’t anything out there of substance that they could kick us out for.”
The other three members of the RMLL’s Junior A division — the Edmonton Eclipse, St. Albert Miners and Calgary Mountaineers — passed a motion to expel the Raiders from the league at a Dec. 5 meeting due to an acrimonious relationship between the franchises.
As part of the RMLL decision, the board approved a negotiated offer from the Raiders in which Fehr and team governor and counsel Jennifer Pollock agreed to step back from involvement with any team meetings within the Jr. A division, the RMLL or the Alberta Lacrosse Association.
“These last set of compromises are two or three different steps that we had taken to try and find a way to reach across the table and look those guys in the eye and say let’s forget about the past,” said Fehr, who was also barred by the RMLL from being on the Raiders’ bench during games. “I’m prepared to take a back seat role, Jennifer is prepared to take a back seat role.”
Fehr said there are no shortages of candidates to take over as team representatives for the Raiders in league meetings, including team vice-president Dennis Shute.
“Our biggest issue on that would just be bringing everybody up to speed that’s going to representing the Raiders on the issues and trying to set up scenarios on contentious issues where they would want to come back in caucus,” Fehr said. “We’ve always run a democratic club. Maybe once in 10 years have I ever made a unilateral decision.”
The RMLL release acknowledged the efforts of the Raiders to mend fences with the rest of the league and allow for improved dynamics between the teams.
“We agree that expulsion would not meet the interests of any parties and certainly not the development of players and lacrosse in the RMLL,” the release stated.
Fehr said he is hopeful the four teams in the league can unite with the number-one goal of developing the game of lacrosse in Alberta.
“You can’t forget everything that has gone on,” Fehr said. “I think you need to really bring closure on a lot of stuff. In order for this to really happen there has to be a process that’s somewhat cathartic so we can say let’s just bury the hatchet once and for all.
“We all have to accept the fact that we need one ultimate goal to get better and compete with B.C. and Ontario.”
Raiders assistant coach Dave Pym, who was the target of a number of accusations from the Jr. A league teams in the initial motion, was cleared of any discipline by the RMLL board.
“The board agrees that Dave Pym should not be included in this action, nor should there be any dictation about who the Raiders (or any team) can or cannot retain as a member of their coaching staff,” the release stated.
Pym, the former head coach of the Calgary Roughnecks and current western scout for the Toronto Rock, said he was confident his name would be cleared from any wrongdoing.
“The result is what we expected all along given our view of the facts and the circumstances surrounding what we think is childish behaviour by a number of select individuals,” Pym said. “As it relates to me personally there is obviously some vindication there, but if they want to continue to pursue matters through other processes feel free.”
Pym said he is eager to hear an end to the political noise and focus on the Raiders’ fortunes on the floor, with preparations for the Junior A entry draft on Feb. 19.
“To say that this isn’t going to have a positive impact on our organization would be a significant, monumental understatement,” Pym said. “When you look at the support we’ve received from across Canada and the public outcry of supporting letters we received from the community of Okotoks it’s very humbling.
“There’s no question that when our team hits the floor there’s a significant group of people that have played a part in standing shoulder to shoulder with us in all of this and we’re going to go to war with them standing shoulder to shoulder with us on the floor.”
For at least one Raider the opportunity to suit up again for the hometown team came with its moments of doubt.
Okotokian Raymond Banister admitted there were times when he thought there might not be a Raider to come back to in the spring.
“All three teams were kind of against us there so it did seem at some points there wouldn’t be an Okotoks team next year,” Banister said. “We’re obviously pretty excited to get back on the floor and take it to the other three teams in the league. Almost kicking us out like that is not something we’re going to take lightly.”