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Time can make a big difference

” … Life for the Smoke Eaters fans seems to be getting better by the second,” Thompson writes.
Sports ‘n’ Things by Trail Times columnist Dave Thompson

Time may not heal all wounds. Just ask indigenous people all over the world. There are sometimes, big changes over time, even a short amount of it.

One case in point is the Stanley Cup playoff final series. For long stretches of both of the first two games, the Pittsburgh Penguins were utterly dominated, all over the ice. Then, over the space of minutes, they scored enough to stay in one game and take full control of another.

Another case in point. Just a month ago the Toronto Blue Jays were the worst team with the worst record in major league baseball. Starting Thursday the Blue Jays, having already moved up into the upper half of the standings in the league, have a chance to get within a couple of games of the leader in their division and even closer to a wild card ranking. With a win over the Yankees Thursday, the Jays record would be enough for them to be in, or within a win of, second place in three of mlb’s six divisions.

And, a local case in point. This time last season the Trail Smoke Eaters had one active essentially part time beginner coach, working mainly from his parents’ home (don’t know if it was the basement or not), no head coach, a mounting six figure debt and a pretty dishearted fan base that had purchased around 200 season tickets . All of that was being organized and run by a volunteer group whose members had private family and job considerations and were therefore often near exhaustion from the Smokie commitment.

Look at em now. The Society that operated them has a six figure surplus and the team is being run/pushed by energetic and committed new owners, who have hired several full time staff, including a new young coach to replace the previous young coach, Curtis Toneff. Toneff has been recognized with a promotion within the hockey universe for his yeoman work in developing a Smoke Eater roster that could compete in the BCHL pretty much right out of the gate.

The new guy, Jessie Leung, appears to be bringing much the same skill set that Toneff did - a strong ability to recognize player quality and a deep familiarity with the lode of young players in the BCHL’s main sphere of influence. The Cominco Arena, never terrible as rinks go, has been upgraded, in terms of team facilities, into the first class range.

Oh, and there were almost 700 season tickets sold by the beginning of June.

So, not all things are amenable to improvement with time, but life for Penguin, Blue Jays and Smoke Eaters fans seems to be getting better by the second.

Jim Bailey

About the Author: Jim Bailey

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