The junior Nanaimo Timbermen decided that they want to take a different direction on the lacrosse floor.
The junior A club announced Monday that coach Dale Nicks and his staff have been fired.
“We felt in order to get to where we want to go as an organization, as a team, we needed a new voice behind the bench to lead us forward,” said Jon Nicholson, T-men general manager.
The club has already chosen Nicks’s replacement, but will not announce the new coach until Thursday, Nicholson said.
Nicks, along with his assistant coaches Jamie Gilles and Brian Nikula, led Nanaimo’s B.C. Junior A Lacrosse League team to a 3-17-1 record, outside the playoffs.
Nicks said he understands that lacrosse is a business, but said he wasn’t expecting to be replaced this off-season after just one year behind the bench.
“You often find when you bring in a new coaching staff into an organization that it takes a couple years to turn things around and I was just hoping for that opportunity,” he said.
Two-thirds of the way through the 2012 season, team management made a series of major trades without consulting the coaching staff. Nicks said he didn’t think the team had made up its mind to fire the coaches back then, and Nicholson also said that wasn’t the case.
“I don’t think so at all,” said the GM. “We made this decision after the year and after we reviewed everything – coaching, the players, management, everything.”
Nicks said people should look back at the 2012 team and note how many rookies the T-men had on the floor every game, and consider also the impact of many key injuries. Glenn Foley, the team’s captain in 2011, missed nearly all of 2012 and enough other Timbermen players were hurt that the team never sat a healthy scratch all season. Those factors impacted the team’s win-loss record, said the coach.
“I don’t think it’s a reflection on the coaching staff,” Nicks said. “I think Brian Nikula and Jamie Gilles did a wonderful job last year. I think we have to look at the season for what it was.”
Before the campaign started, the team was talking about championship potential, but on Monday, Nicks said he’s not sure the franchise put itself in a position to reach those goals. He said the T-men needed more support off the floor with additional trainers, managers and scouts, for example.
“If they actually want to be a team that’s going to be a contender, there’s a lot of other things that need to be done in order for that to occur,” he said.
Nicholson said he doesn’t think any unrealistic expectations were placed on the junior A Timbermen.
“I really like that core group and I like the talent we have,” he said. “We definitely do need to add some pieces around that, but I think that group had the ability to get into the playoffs, so it was disappointing when we finished with only three wins.”
Nicks has been asked if he’d like to stay on with the team as a defensive assistant coach, but hasn’t yet made up his mind. In the meantime Nicholson and his new coach – a familiar name in the Nanaimo lacrosse community – have started the process of re-tooling the team. The midget draft has been reinstated for 2013, which should benefit the Timbermen.
“We are definitely making personnel plans for upcoming season…” Nicholson said. “You always have to add some pieces, be it front end, back end. There’s always room for improvement.”