AMHERST – Jim Bottomley will not be returning to the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers next season.
Team president Jim Henwood confirmed Wednesday the team has not been able to come to terms with the coach and general manager and will be starting the process to hire a replacement.
“As a committee of myself, Keith Blenkhorn and Billy Chapman, we presented him with an offer and he came back to us with another offer that included a two-year contract and a significant pay increase,” Henwood said. “It’s just not economically feasible for us to give him want he wants.”
Bottomley, the longtime coach of the former Halifax Exports franchise, was hired by the Ramblers in June 2011 to replace coach Jeff Lewis and general manager Corey Crocker. In his first season he took the team to Game 7 of the then Bent Division final series before losing to the Yarmouth Mariners, while last season he took the club to Game 6 of the Eastlink final before losing to the Fred Page Cup host Truro Bearcats.
Under his leadership, the Ramblers had a record of 63 wins, 29 losses, eight overtime losses and four shootout losses.
Henwood said he has a couple of names in mind to replace Bottomley and hopes to begin looking for a replacement as soon as possible. A
“We have a few people in mind. We had to be prepared going into Saturday when his contract expired. We were a little squeezed because the annual meeting was just last Tuesday. We can’t hire a coach without the approval of the board,” he said.
Henwood said he’s very disappointed that Bottomley isn’t returning and he’s very doubtful there will be any further discussion with the former coach.
“I was very proud when we brought Jim Bottomley to Amherst two years and I was honoured to have him as our coach and general manager the last two seasons. He has done a lot of great things for this franchise, but at the end of the day it comes down to money,” Henwood said. “We just couldn’t give him what he wants.”
Bottomley said he was looking forward to returning to Amherst for a third season and is surprised he wasn’t given an opportunity to sit down with the board and talk it over.
“I wanted to come back but they didn’t want to do anything. I felt after the last two years and what we’ve done that something would be done,” Bottomley said. “They waited until the last minute and nothing could be done.”
Bottomley said there were no negotiations between himself and the board. He said the club wanted to cut his travel expenses. He offered to meet with Henwood, but was told it was a decision of that board that they don’t want to spend any more money.
“I’m very disappointed because we were starting to really build something good in Amherst, but it’s tough to go year to year and normally before your contract is up you start negotiations,” Bottomley said. “I had two good years in Amherst and that’s where my heart is.”