TIMMINS - The Timmins franchise will be looking to Rock the NOJHL when Junior ‘A’ Hockey returns to the City with a Heart of Gold.
The name, team colours (maroon, gold and white), logo and branding were announced during a press conference at the McIntyre Arena — the team’s new home — Friday afternoon.
The franchise that started life as the Timmins Golden Bears, evolved into the Iroquois Falls Jr. Eskis and then the Abitibi Eskimos has been reborn as the Timmins Rock.
“We have been working on this for four months, but it starts today, it gets real today,” said Rock president Scott Marshall.
“This (announcing the name) has been a big decision for the hockey team. I know some of our fans have been a little frustrated but it was a big decision and we were under some time constraints.
“We had to get it done in time for the sportsman show, so we have been very busy with this.
“We wanted to pick a name that the young fans could relate to and we wanted a name that tied into Timmins and mining. We wanted to brand the team to support the brand of the city, and their branding efforts.
“All of these factors were taken into consideration. The board considered I don’t know how many names before we arrived at the name.”
Once the name was selected, things kind of fell into place from there.
“We got lucky, first that (former Timmins Golden Bear) Luc Lamarche decided to join the board, and then when we were talking about who was going to design the logo,” Marshall said.
“We didn’t want to and didn’t have time to do the logo contest thing. A teammate of Luc’s another former player with this franchise, Paul Ainsworth, is a graphic artist who lives in Ajax. He was born and raised in Timmins and his dad (Ivan) was a big time minor hockey guy.
“We contacted Paul and exchanged drawings and ideas back and forth.
“Life is funny. It throws you curve balls and you have to pay attention. The logo we are unveiling today would not have happened if Luc hadn’t joined the board, or if he hadn’t played Junior ‘A’ hockey with Paul.
“The logo, obviously, represents hockey, it represents mining and it represents the city. The shield represents strength and unity and anybody who is involved in mining knows we are part of the Canadian Shield.
“We wanted something that was simple, that our younger fans could relate to and something that would look great on the jerseys.”
Paul Ainsworth, who set aside a number of other projects he had been working on to ensure the logo would be ready on time was not able to attend Friday’s press conference.
Timmins Mayor Steve Black was able to attend the event and wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
“Timmins will Rock the Mac,” he said.
“I have my four season tickets, down by the penalty box, already.
“This is a great opportunity for the City of Timmins and council, staff and myself have been working hard on this over the past couple of months to allow the team to relocate here and find a partnership that works.
“Hopefully the community will rally behind the team now that that campaign (season ticket and corporate sponsorship) has officially been launched.
“Hopefully next year at this time I will be able to talk to Peter Politis (mayor of Cochrane, home of the NOJHL Crunch) and tell him we are on the winning side.”
The team also introduced two new members of the Rock’s board of directors and announced a couple of corporate partnerships.
In addition to Luc Lamarche, the other new board members announced Friday are Guy Lamarche and Amanda Dyer.
“We have added some Timmins content to the board,” Marshall said.
“Luc is actually an alumni of the franchise. He played for the Golden Bears in the early ’90s and he was the captain of our ‘AA’ midget team when we played in Quebec.
“I have known Luc since he was 16 years old, so that kind of dates me.
“Amanda will be a great addition to our group. Guy is well known in the City of Timmins and he will be another great addition.
“There are now nine of us altogether on the board.”
Luc Lamarche is happy to be part of the board of directors and confident the fans will support the Timmins Rock the same way they did when he played for the Timmins Golden Bears.
“When I heard there was an opportunity to get back involved in the same franchise now moving back to Timmins, I was very excited to do so,” he said.
“I am looking forward to the product we are going to be able to give to the citizens of Timmins.”
Luc Lamarche has already made a big contribution to the Timmins Rock thanks to his friendship with a former teammate.
“I grew up with Luc and he is a fantastic graphic artist,” he said.
“Once we started having discussions about a new logo for the team, he is the first person who came to mind. Being a professional graphic artist in the Toronto area, you can imagine Paul is a very busy individual, but he essentially stopped everything was doing and he was very excited to work on this campaign. He obviously still has an affiliation with Timmins. His family is all still here.
“Being an alumni, he is extremely excited that he had the opportunity to participate in the process. From a board perspective, when you look at the logo, we could not have gotten anything better. We are very happy with the work he has done for us.”
Another Timmins Golden Bears alumni grad, former NHL star Steve Sullivan, who is now a player development coach with the Arizona Coyotes, will assume a senior adviser role with with the NOJHL franchise.
“We speak to Steve on an almost weekly basis and he is really excited that the team is returning to Timmins,” Marshall said.
The Rock also announced that Source for Sports Timmins will be its merchandising partner.
“All the team jerseys, hats, pucks, whatever you need will be available at the store and we also have plans for a joint online store,” Marshall said
Even before Friday’s official launch, the Rock had sold 119 season tickets — well on the way to hitting its target of 650 season tickets.
“Our season ticket campaign has been going well already, despite not having any formal advertising,” Marshall said.
“The other thing we are launching today is our corporate partnership campaign. It is important for everybody to realize that it is great to have the team, the logo and everything, but the strength of the franchise is going to be the season ticket holders and our corporate partners. That is where the money is going to come from to acquire the players that the team needs to have a superior on-ice product.
“We are kicking those campaigns off today and we are hoping to be very successful in both.”
Season tickets can be purchased online and they will also be available at the Timmins Sportsman Show at the McIntyre Arena, April 24-26, and the Timmins Home Show the following weekend.
Now that the team has an arena to play out of, a name, colours and a logo, the next step for the Rock will be to sign some players to fill out those jerseys.
Paul Gagne, coach and general manager of the Rock, is the person who will be in charge of that process and like everyone else in attendance at Friday’s press conference he gave the name and logo two thumbs up.
“We have 10 players who are eligible to come back,” Gagne said.
“We know they won’t all be back, for one reason or another, so we have already started the recruiting process.
“Invitations have been sent out to a number of players and now that we have a name and branding we will be going a little harder than normal.
“We want to make sure we make a good first impression.”
It certainly sounds like the on-ice product will be as exciting as the Rock’s impressive new name, logo and colours.
The Rock are encouraging fans to check out their new website www.timminsrock.com.