New executive for Border Bruins

The Grand Forks Border Bruins will head into next season with a complete change of the executive.

Dave Koftinoff reads a letter from coach/general manager Emery Olauson at the Border Bruins AGM Friday at Jack Goddard Memorial Arena.

After making the playoffs for the first time in 19 years, the Border Bruins will head into next season with a complete change of the executive after the former executive announced they wouldn’t run again at the team’s annual general meeting Friday in the arena viewing room. In addition, there are seven new board of directos with only Tim Stooshinoff returning.

Outgoing president Martin Vanlerberg chaired the meeting and told the board of directors and members present that he was stepping away from the executive (and board) to spend time with his family. Voted in as new president of the Border Bruins organization was Dan Koftinoff.

The meeting was held in the arena viewing room with approximately 50 people in attendance. There were several issues the meeting regarding several different issues that arose during the season. After the president’s report and the treasurer’s financial report, Dave Koftinoff (Dan’s brother) read a letter from coach/general manager Emery Olauson stating a number of contentious issues between himself and the executive regarding a lack of communication.

During the president’s report, Vanlerberg spoke of the importance of community and thanked those involved saying that making the playoffs for the first time in 19 years was quite an achievement. “Thank you to the hard-working team, the staff, Emery and Britt, the volunteers, and all of the fans for being a part of making that dream become a reality,” said Vanlerberg.

He also noted that the board over the past couple of years has brought financial stability to the Bruins organization and shown fiscal responsibility in erasing a $50,000 debt. “It’s been an amazing journey over the past six years to be a part of this organization,” said Vanlerberg. “To have been a part of taking this hockey club out of close to $50,000 of debt is a very memorable feat. Thank you to all who make it possible.”

For the treasurer’s report, Nancy Frith said that all the accounts were reconciled and balanced and all the bills were paid. She also noted that she had received no money from the coaches for items such as sales of playoff T-shirts, team calendars and player team fees. Board member (and new president) Dan Koftinoff told Frith that the coaches had dropped off the money to him at his office.

“Where is it?” Frith said to Dan Koftinoff. “I’m the treasurer I should be dealing with that.” At that point Dan’s brother Dave Koftinoff asked to read the letter from coach Olauson, which he did before the voting of the new executive.

Olauson said in the letter that he was vacationing with his family in North Carolina, which is why he wasn’t at the meeting. “I want to thank the society for an exciting year,” he wrote. “It was amazing to see the growth of our players as individuals and as a team. It has truly been my pleasure to take this year’s team on this journey as head coach and general manager. Despite what many of you have heard and most people assume it would make my family and I very happy to take step two in this rebuild and continue to take this team in the right direction next year.”

Olauson went on in the letter to say there were many challenges he had to face off the ice. “As general manager I have zero access and therefore no idea of any measurable improvements to our team’s bottom line,” he wrote. “To reflect on my goals and effectiveness as a GM (general manager) is impossible. I was frustrated all year with the lack of transparency and access to information ie. financial budget. There were a number of empty promises made by the executive due to a $900 player raise in fees this year.”

Olauson said in his letter that the only board meeting he attended was in November. “I was only invited to give the coach’s report and asked to leave,” he wrote. “Since this board meeting, communication has been a one-way street. It became very inefficient to make decisions as a GM with the president always inaccessible. The president was available but simply wouldn’t respond. An example would be reaching out to the president and only hearing back from the secretary for the entire second half of the season.”

Olauson said he was not even invited to the Bruins’ Christmas party. “Without positive change in regards to the executive I cannot see myself here for another season,” he wrote.

Secretary Amanda Vanlerberg responded by saying that both coaches were invited to the last board meeting, which was Dec. 9, but neither could make it. “We asked for a report if they couldn’t make it,” she said. “A text was sent that said, ‘we are 11-4 in our last 15 games and trying to get better.’ That was his report. There was a brief fundraising report from the assistant coach. That was our last official board meeting as the whole board for purposes of safety and security.”

The Bruins’ society members than voted for president with Dan Koftinoff being voted in. Before the election, he said that if elected he would give the general manager more responsibility and take the pressure off the board members.

Elected to the other positions were Darrell Funk as vice-president, Raman Singh for treasurer and Letha Leber for secretary. Nine directors stepped forward: Val Wright, Tim Stooshnoff, Jim Arishenkoff, Kevin MacKinnon, T.J. Sebastian, Nate Cirnek, Hunter Wey and Tammy Cathcart.

In a brief interview Tuesday morning, Dan Koftinoff told the Gazette that he and the new board have met a few times and they have reached out to Olauson with an offer.

“His response was very positive,” said Dan. “Now he does have other offers on the table so his family is going to take a couple of days. I am more than optimistic that hopefully a deal will be there with him.”