A’burg and LaSalle hold meeting on hockey amalgamation

By Joel Charron

The Amherstburg Minor Hockey Association (AMHA) and the LaSalle Minor Hockey Association (LMHA) held a public meeting last week to discuss a possible amalgamation for next season.

Representative from both organizations held two meetings, one in Amherstburg and one in LaSalle.

The amalgamation would take affect next season and depends on both organizations passing their own separate votes. AMHA president Marc Renaud said that everything is dependant upon the vote of the board, which should take place in roughly six to eight weeks.

“Nothing is final until we come back to the associations,” said Renaud.

Renaud is one of the Amherstburg members of the amalgamation concept committee. Also on the committee is Paul Tonietto and Matt Stoyanovich. Scot Nicole, Dom Vierira and Marc Crundwell represented LMHA.

Chairperson is John Leslie, lawyer with the firm Miller Canfield.

Each association has to have two-thirds approval from its membership for the amalgamation to go forward. If one or both of the minor hockey associations shoot it down, the proposal would be killed.

The committee is looking at seeing if amalgamation will improve the opportunity for all players to play at the most appropriate level they are capable of playing at and whether it would increase player development in both house league and representative programs. It is also being investigated as to whether joining forces would provide all players maximum ice allotment and if the utilization of coaching, volunteers, financial and fundraising resources could be used more effectively.

Initial discussions on amalgamation were held in April with the boards of both organizations formally approving continuing amalgamation discussions in May. The groups met with legal representation with OMHA amalgamation experience in August to get advice on procedures with the amalgamation concept committee also being approved that month. Leslie was retained in September to represent both AMHA and LMHA and to chair the amalgamation concept committee.

Renaud said the OMHA’s re-alignment and player movement rule changes have cause concerns about competitiveness within centers. A merger could provide a strong, more competitive organization. He also noted that it would provide players with greater opportunities and have the organization run efficiently.

Renaud noted the risk of not amalgamation could include loss of players, competitiveness and loss of control over their future with OMHA possibly stepping in and forcing the merger.

Benefits that were listed at the meeting include a better opportunity to develop players at the appropriate level, increasing the number of house league and rep teams, having the association better positioned for potential OMHA changes, and improved efficiencies for the organizations. There would also be opportunities for growth for coaches and players by providing a progression path such as AE to A to AA.

A transition board would guide the new organization, if approved, with representation from both AMHA and LMHA. A new constitution, bylaws and manual of operations would have to be drafted as well as transition documents to help guide a potential amalgamated group into a new organization.

Leslie said some of the documents should be ready for the public’s eyes before a vote in January and noted that transitional bylaws would also available at the vote.

He also mentioned that an appointed board could help guide the newly merged group through the first two years of the process.

A website, www.amherstburglasalle.info, is being launched so that members of both entities can be updated as to where things stand on a potential amalgamation process. The next steps would be to form sub-committees to review and bring together best practices of AMHA and LMHA for a new organization, execution of the OMHA process and develop an amalgamation plan for approval.

If the merger goes through, both organizations would have a new name and a new look, however Reanud said the two sides haven’t reached discussions in that department.

Tonietto said that all decisions are made with the children in mind.

“When we came together about this, we knew that the ego had to be checked at the door,” Tonietto said. “This is all about the kids and what’s best for them.”

Tonietto mentioned there is some “dead ice” right now on Pad B and AMHA has taken as much ice time as possible. The group said they would have decide where and when ice is available to growth.

This isn’t the first amalgamation in the regions. Kingsville and Harrow have merged and are now known as Erie North Shore. Tecumseh and Belle River are also working on a possible amalgamation and Tonietto said he has heard whispers of Essex and Southpoint joining forces.






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