Mike Allison has quit as head coach of the Borderland Thunder hockey team after several discussions with management on the lack of time he was able to put into the team.
Wayne Strachan has been named head coach while a new assistant will join Shane Bliss as his aides as they approach their inaugural season in the new Superior International Junior Hockey League this September.
Thunder general manager Brent Tookenay said a new assistant will be named just before their Aug. 3-5 training camp here.
After a meeting with Tookenay and team president Shawn Jourdain about three weeks ago, Allison said there was no ill-will between both parties, simply stating his other obligations got in the way.
“We talked over the summer and with the [AA hockey] camp and working at [Canada Customs], I just felt that’s where I should give my energy.
“I just wasn’t giving enough to the hockey team to run it,” he admitted. “We had a really positive meeting and it was mutually decided that this was the best for the organization.”
Tookenay respected Allison’s wishes but hoped they would have met sooner.
“The only thing I wish is if he was feeling this way is that he would have told us sooner,” he said. “He left us behind the eight-ball a little bit in terms of recruiting players. That’s where it hurt us.
“But there’s no ill-feelings. If he doesn’t have the time to do it, he doesn’t have time to do it,” Tookenay added.
He admitted Allison’s sudden departure occurred during a difficult stretch time last month as the team was experiencing scheduling and jersey production problems.
One may consider this a serious blow for the Thunder. Not only did they lose a learned hockey mind but a well-known name to help market the team to the public. But Tookenay is confident the franchise will blossom without Allison.
“I’m very pleased with the people we have in place,” he said.
Allison agreed, saying the town will support good hockey—regardless of who is behind the bench.
“They’ve got great people who are taking over,” he said. “What’s going to sell seats is a good product on the ice. Whether Mike Allison is coach or not, if the team’s bad, no one is going to come.”
Born and raised in Fort Frances, Strachan, 28, helped lead the Muskies to the provincial gold medal here in 1989 before starring at Lake Superior State University between 1991-1995, where he won two national championships.
In 1993, he was a supplemental draft pick of the New York Rangers.
He also played professionally for team in the International Hockey League, the East Coast Hockey League, and the Colonial Hockey League.
His last stop was with the Rockford Ice Hogs of the United Hockey League in 199-2000.
This past season, Strachan coached the local Tagg’s Bantam ‘AA’ squad with Bliss and Tookenay.
Allison, a Fort Frances native, is a 10-year veteran of the National Hockey League, having played for the Rangers, Toronto Maples Leafs, and Los Angeles Kings between 1989-1990.