Royals Should Release North

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Updated: December 30, 2013
Western Royals Steve North | Newfoundland Hockey Talk

No one can question Steve North for his heart he has shown playing for the Corner Brook Royals. He’s battled through injury after injury and has come back time and time again to lace up for the red, white and blue. As team captain however, one has to question the role that he has played over the last few years and also question whether he is an asset or a liability for the team.

Early in his career with the Royals, North could be seen blazing up and down the wing, mixing it up in the corners, popping in the big goal when needed. He played with grit and speed with a bit of tenacity mixed in for good measure. He then suffered a major shoulder injury that sidelined him for an extended time but he was a true sportsman and made every effort to return to his old form and back into the Royals lineup.

His biggest asset is his desire to play and his desire to win. He’s struggled to remain health and has had a rash of injuries that have sidelined him at times indefinitely. Yet as we have said here at Newfoundland Hockey Talk, he has come back time and time again to lace up the skates and compete. This is a definite strength but one also has to understand what we mean when we say it is a liability.

The Royals commitment to their captain is admirable. However, his injuries seem to keep coming back and each time that North returns, there’s a little something missing from his game. He loses a few steps here and there, is a bit tentative heading into the corners and lacks the fire and drive that he had shown in his early days with the Royals.

Some argue that he is the same Steve North of old and that it is his style of fast-paced play that has resulted in the injuries he’s sustained. His tentative play and the fact he’s slowed considerably over the last few seasons is related more to game rust than a nervousness for being injured again. They also argue that North plays more of a defensive role on the team and brings solid leadership both on and off the ice.

It can be argued however, that each time that North is injured, it leaves a gap in the Royals lineup and given that the team lacks the depth to fill that gap, the Royals suffer. It is obvious they are not the same team without North in the lineup because of injury but if the Royals released or traded North to another squad, they have the potential to be a much better team without him permanently.

The Western Royals are quick to defend their captain but several Royals insiders have hinted that it may be time for the team to look elsewhere. They suggest this would make room for perhaps another solid offensive player, someone with younger legs and the ability to keep up with the ever increasing fast pace in the NLSHL. They suggest that anything would be better than the production they’ve seen from their captain over the last several seasons. North has played just 38 games with 3 goals and 12 assists in the last 3 seasons.

Steve North has had a long career with the Royals. However, maybe it’s time that the organization take a long, hard look at the relationship. A change for the team might also be a chance for North to revitalize his career and prove not only to himself but to the fans of the NLSHL that he can still compete.

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