Greig Baker’s sentences came across like an annual state of a team address that every professional club holds at the end of each year.
It’s been more than a month since the London Blue Devils finished their Ontario Junior B Lacrosse League season, but you can excuse the lateness of the address London Minor Lacrosse Association’s (LMLA) administrator with the way things went.
This year was supposed to carry some extra optimism with the LMLA absorbing the local Jr. B squad. Instead it was a disastrous.
For the first time in four years, the Blue Devils didn’t make the playoffs. London’s 16 losses last season were more than they had in 2012 and 2013 combined. Inner turmoil in the club forced London to forfeit a home game. The complete coaching staff has left.
Baker and the LMLA board are taking the first step to getting things back on track — finding a new general manager.
The Board and former Blue Devils GM Bruno Richter decided to mutually go their separate ways after one year together.
All the usual general manager responsibilities are expected — hire coaches, develop a budget, create sponsorship partnerships, recruit and sign players, etc.
There’s an extra task in the job requirement this time around that wasn’t included last year’s listing — contribute to the 15-person board of directors.
“We need someone really hands on,” Baker said, adding the board is also looking for a GM to be the face of the team.
The responsibility is necessary as Baker admits there’s a big difference between running a Jr. B squad and minor association.
The board member said the mismanagement started at the top and resulted in letting down the players and former coach Ian Gordon.
“I think that maybe when it was taken over it wasn’t fully understood what we had to do as a board. It was the first year and now it’s kind of seen how it went and now we have to put more of an effort forth,” Baker said. “We felt that with (last year’s coach) Ian (Gordon), we didn’t have things ready, and simple things, that should have been done. It was a let down to them and rather frustrating I’m sure.”
It’s refreshing to listen to Baker. You usually hear about top brass dishing out responsibility, not accepting it.
The board is hoping the new GM can provide guidance on a variety of issues, including if LMLA should create a whole new committee strictly for the Jr. B squad.
The idea is to eventually have a new home for the roughly 600 kids in LMLA once they graduate from the minor system. That was Jeff Williamson, the Blue Devils GM from 2008 to 2012, dream when he worked hard to combine the two organizations. Last year — the first year Williamson left — was a step in the wrong direction of that goal.
LMLA will be accepting resumes until Aug. 22 and expect to decide on a new GM in early September. Last year Richter wasn’t brought in until December and had three months before training camp. The board is hoping to bring in a new general manager sooner than they did last year and give the GM more time to get organized — then again there’s probably more work to do this time around.
“I don’t think it’s a harder sell this year because it’s going to come across that we’re more prepared for this,” Baker said.
This is a year to start “rebranding” the Jr. B team, as Baker calls it. Like the administrator said, it all starts at the top.
“If we don’t build the Jr. b program, rebrand it and do something soon, it’s not going to exist,” Baker said. “We don’t want to focus on the negative’s of last year, we want to build on the positives that were there before that.”