Gagne staying with Eskis for 2012/13

Paul Gagne has been at the helm of the Eskis for more than a decade and the 2012/13 season will be no different.   Rumours have been circulating that Gagne was leaving the Abitibi Eskimos of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League to pursue a coaching position elsewhere; however, those rumours couldn’t be further from the truth.   “I can tell you that Paul Gagne is still staying on to coach 100%,” said Scott Marshall, president of the Eskimos. “There’s rumours flying around out there that he’s going somewhere else. There is no truth to that whatsoever.”   Gagne added, “For sure I’ll be returning as the coach. I’m happy to be involved in hockey with a great organization. It’s good to give back to the kids the knowledge that I have.”   The Eskimos will be entering their 14th season in Iroquois Falls and since then Gagne has only missed two years.   As far as locking up Gagne to coach the Eskis next season, Marshall believes shaking hands is just a good as a contract.   “Paul and I have been friends for 30 years, so our contract is we talk and we shake hands. We’re men of our word.”   Gagne said, “I enjoy doing what I’m doing and we’ll try to put together a winning team for next year.”   Recruiting the next crop of talent Part of the strategy for developing a winning team starts with the franchise’s bottom line. Over 13 years, the club has raised more than $2.5 million to stay in Iroquois Falls, which is “good,” said Marshall. However the team has spent about $2.65 million.   As of the 2011/12 season, the club was operating on a budget of about $225,000.   However, the executive branch of the Eskis is hoping to raise that number to $275,000 in time for next season with the hope that a higher budget will allow the team to compete in the very competitive NOJHL.   “The plan is we want to get our program to the next level,” said Marshall.   Gagne added, “Just on our recruiting it’s very difficult with the kids because they like to go south, but I think with increasing the budget it should help with recruiting players and It would help with expenses. We’d like to work something to out to have an incentive for the players to want to play up North and that way we can have better players who want to play here.”   We’ve always said that we want to get to the next level, meaning we want to get better and have a winning team. If we can do that by having better recruitment, then we’ll have better players and a better program on the ice. There are a lot of prospects out there. We’ve had our scouts doing their work all winter long, watching the players so that’s a bonus.”   In order to achieve their goal of increasing the budget by $50,000, the club is reaching out to “hockey people” and “dedicated fans” to make the goal a reality.   “We’re talking about having an Igloomaniac Wall of Fame, so that if a person or business makes an donation to the team of $500 or more, their name would be engraved on a wall at the Jus Jordan Arena,” said Marshall. “We’re being more aggressive in reaching out to the businesses within the region that like hockey and they like the fact that we’re here. We’re pretty confident that we’ll reach the goal that we’ve made for ourselves.”