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By Josh Wingrove

In spite of his predecessor’s doubts, the current men’s hockey coach said his team won’t be folding any time soon.

“I know that there is going to be a program next year, because I’ve been given the go ahead to continue as is,” coach Mick Mitrovic said. Last week, former coach Ed Kirsten told The Eyeopener that “the writing is on the wall,” when asked if he thought the winless hockey team would be cut by athletics at the end of the season to save money.

Kirsten blamed the budget woes on the failed RAC referendum. Last October, Ryerson students voted against raising Sports and Recreation fees from $57.17 to $133. The referendum’s unexpected failure left the department strapped for cash. Mitrovic said the poor state of the hockey program is not because of a lack of funding, but because of Kirsten, who was fired in December.

“Eighty per cent of the state of the program–him,” Mitrovic said. “(Kirsten is) basically the reason why the team has gone down the shitter the last three years,” said Rams forward Chris Sutton. “He’s going ahead and making comments on something he’s created.”

After reading last week’s article, Sutton went directly to Dave Dubois, program director of Ryerson Sports and Recreaction, to ask if the team would be folded. “(Dubois) wanted to make sure that I knew that it wasn’t just the hockey team being looked at,” Sutton said. “It was everybody… I trust what Mick and Dave tell me. Hopefully they aren’t lying to me.”

Dubois has assured both Mitrovic and some players that the team isn’t going anywhere. “Obviously it’s business as usual,” Dubois said. “I like Mick. I support him 100 per cent. But we have to do what is best for Ryerson.”

Dubois added that although he personally wouldn’t like to cut a team, budget issues are forcing his department to look into all options. This week, Kirsten said he isn’t surprised Dubois told the current coach the team wouldn’t be cut. “They probably haven’t made a decision yet,” Kirsten said. He still feels the team’s future is in doubt.

Meanwhile, Mitrovic has been recruiting new talent. “We’ve got a lot of things lined up. I’m working on sponsorship to offset the budgetary restraints,” he said.”I don’t think we need to cut anybody’s budget, I don’t think we need to cut any programs.” Mitrovic has been actively recruiting new players he feels will be more conducive to his up-tempo, free-skating system. “I’m looking for offensive players because I can teach defence, but I can’t teach offence. Defence is the easiest thing to teach. Offence, either you have it or you don’t,” he said.

He has already recruited seven players for next season. Although he didn’t name the new Rams, he said all are offensively minded skaters. “They want to be part of the foundation, of rebuilding, rather than being another piece of a puzzle on somebody else’s fucking team,” Mitrovic said.

“They want to make an impact. These are the types of kids that I am recruiting, kids that want to work towards improving the program, improving Ryerson’s name with respect to hockey and athletics.” “I like what I’ve seen the second half,” said Rams forward Matt Harris. “Our systems are better and, from what I hear, we’ve got some good players coming in.”

Mitrovic has already cut some players this year and made it clear that no current Ram has a guaranteed spot on next season’s roster. “We’re having our team meetings in two weeks. Some guys will be asked to stay, with conditions,” he said.

“Some guys will be told to go. “I get to clean house at the end of the season if I want to,” he later added.

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