“There’s teams out there that pay $300 per player per game. I’m not going to do that when I’m already losing money and we’re getting 70 fans a game.”
By Sam Laskaris
Less than two months after hosting a national tournament, the Six Nations Slash has ceased operations.
Jeremy Jamieson, who has owned and served as the general manager of the men’s Senior B lacrosse club since its inception seven years ago, announced on Sunday he was folding the team.
The Slash hosted the Presidents Cup, the Canadian Senior B championship, in late August and early September.
As the host, the Six Nations side received an automatic entry into the nine-team tournament. The Slash, however, did not have much success at the nationals, winning just two out of its eight round-robin matches.
Though the Slash was based in Ontario, it was the only Canadian entry that participated in the Can-Am Lacrosse League, which this season included eight American franchises.
The announcement to fold the Slash was not a surprise for those who played for the squad.
“I told them at the beginning of this year this was my last season,” Jamieson said. “They knew even last year there were times I wanted to quit because I was (mad) at them. But I committed to go through with the Presidents Cup this year.”
The Slash had been awarded rights to host the national tournament in late 2015. Jamieson admitted he came close to tossing in the towel on the franchise even during points in the 2016 campaign.
His frustrations stemmed from the fact the Slash could not field a full roster (Can-Am clubs can dress 18 runners and two goalies) for the majority of their matches.
Despite having 25 players on its roster, the Six Nations squad was frequently short-staffed for its outings.
A low point occurred earlier this season when the Slash had just seven runners, which included Jamieson himself suiting up, and one goalie during a road game in Tonawanda, N.Y.
Jamieson, who never even played in the junior lacrosse ranks, said every year during the Slash’s existence he would play in a minimum of two games himself.
That’s because if Can-Am clubs have less than a dozen individuals dressed for a match, they are fined $50 for each player that they are under the limit.
Though he refused to state how much money he poured into the Slash, Jamieson said the club did lose money every season.
The fact the team was unable to attract large crowds to its home games didn’t help either. Jamieson estimated his club averaged 70 fans per home outing at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena, situated in Hagersville, Ont., on the outskirts of the Six Nations community of Ohsweken.
“The majority of them were elders,” Jamieson said of those who did show up to watch the Slash.
Jamieson said players would give him all sorts of reasons why they would be unavailable to attend matches.
“I heard everything from I can’t find a babysitter to I have to take my kid to his baseball game,” Jamieson said.
Plus, Jamieson made it a policy to never pay any of his players.
“There’s teams out there that pay $300 per player per game,” he said of other Senior B squads. “I’m not going to do that when I’m already losing money and we’re getting 70 fans a game.”
Jamieson added there were committed players who would travel from Fort Erie, Toronto and Mississauga to suit up for the Slash and they never asked for any compensation. But then others from Six Nations would be asking Jamieson for some money in order to suit up for the squad.
The Slash’s cause was also not helped by the fact Six Nations also has another men’s Senior B lacrosse team.
The Six Nations Rivermen compete in the Ontario Lacrosse Association’s Senior B league.
Jamieson said it was an ongoing struggle to try and persuade some of the better local players to suit up for the Slash instead of the Rivermen. Those who did choose to play for the Rivermen were also eligible to be called up by the Six Nations Chiefs, a Senior A club that is part of Major Series Lacrosse (MSL), Ontario’s top men’s league.
Since the Slash did not have any affiliation with the Chiefs, its players were not eligible to be called up by the renowned MSL franchise.
Jamieson said he has no regrets folding the Slash franchise shortly after hosting the Presidents Cup.
“This is the way I wanted to go out – to give my core guys a chance to compete in a national championship,” he said.
During its seven years of operations, the Slash never won a Can-Am Lacrosse League title. The closest it came was during its inaugural season when it advanced to the league semi-finals.