Borderland Thunder forward Justin Bodnarchuk believes the scheduled meeting this coming Tuesday between Superior International Junior Hockey League officials and the Feathermen Hawks to discuss his possible trade to Nipigon is a waste of time.
“It doesn’t matter to me,” Bodnarchuk said Friday morning. “There’s no way I’m reporting to Nipigon, and there’s no way they can change my mind about it.”
Bodnarchuk found out Sunday that he had been dealt to the Hawks along with Thunder defenceman Terry Parisien and forward Mike Fair in exchange for Nipigon all-star forward Brent Greene.
Bodnarchuk, 20, who was third in team scoring last season with 43 points in 45 games, and Greene both expressed their displeasure with the deal Monday afternoon, and said there was a chance they wouldn’t report to their new clubs.
Contacted this morning, Bodnarchuk was more adamant about his intentions.
“I’m pretty upset about it, and I don’t want to be sitting on my butt any longer,” he said. “My number-one decision right now is to try and get home [near London, Ont.] and get my release from the team and the league.”
SIJHL president Jerry Blazino said Friday morning that the league and the Hawks originally had signed an agreement when the team was formed in Fort William, stating the Hawks would have the right to maintain an all-aboriginal playing roster.
He explained this was done because the team wanted to establish a developmental program that would cultivate young players from the Fort William reservation and give them their own home-grown team to strive one day to play for.
But with Bodnarchuk being non-aboriginal, Blazino said the need arose to have that agreement altered.
“The Hawks approached the league requesting the change because they believe it will make them a better team,” said Blazino.
Meanwhile, the SIJHL’s board of directors also wants solid evidence from Hawks’ management that the club, which moved to Nipigon during the off-season, will be able to overcome their current financial difficulties.
“We’re trying to protect the investments of the rest of our league,” said Blazino about Nipigon, which needed the league and the Thunder to cover its busing, food, and hotel costs for its two-game road trip here last weekend.
“We need them to prove they’re financially viable. We think they’ll be able to do that.”
Bodnarchuk wonders why discussions about the agreement weren’t held before the trade was announced, and said he wasn’t convinced that Tuesday’s meeting would bring any resolution to the situation.
“What if they decide they need another meeting in a week or two down the road?” he mused. “They say this is the last one, but how do you really know?”
Bodnarchuk said he and Parisien had received repeated calls from Nipigon general manager and head coach Terry Menard in the past week.
“[Menard] is promising us starting positions and wanted us to get down there as soon as possible,” said Bodnarchuk. “How can he do that when there’s no certainty we’d even be playing?”
He added he’s heard from Thunder management that they presently are working on an alternative deal that would send Bodnarchuk to the La Ronge Ice Wolves of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL).
“I could accept a trade out there,” he said. “But I’d rather get my release and go there as a free agent to try out, if I decided to go there.”
Bodnarchuk also disputed Thunder general manger Brent Tookenay’s comments Monday that players shouldn’t be trying to dictate where they play.
“I’m not trying to dictate where I want to go. I just want to play hockey as soon as possible.”
Tookenay, Menard, and Parisien could not be reached for comment before press time Friday.