Archive for NLSHL
The Corner Brook Royals are no more. Team owner Mr. Ross Coates has decided to rename the team The Western Royals and move 52 kms up the highway toDeerLake. This has left manyCorner Brookhockey fans in disbelief but others acknowledge the move as long overdue. With a 75-year history in the city ofCorner Brook, the Royals have been a pinnacle in Newfoundland Senior Hockey in the province and are arguably one of the best hockey franchises this province has ever seen.
The move toDeerLakeshouldn’t come as a big surprise to anyone who follows senior hockey. TheCorner Brookversion of the Royals has struggled for several seasons both on and off the ice. Despite some close to the organization indicating otherwise, the Royals struggled with coaching, management and with morale in the dressing room. Players weren’t performing, fans weren’t happy and revenues were down.
This heralded franchise looked like it would be no more until Mr. Ross Coates stepped into the picture two years ago.
He embraced the City ofCorner Brookand the Royals, making moves to strengthen the team both on and off the ice. He built what looked liked the most competitive team ever in recent Royals history. He brought in some of the most recognized talent in the province, signing players such as Terry Ryan and Donnie Gosse. He reached out to bring in some imports and made changes throughout the backend of the organization.
There were many hockey watchers who thought the team had great potential but some fans weren’t sold on the changes. Many criticized the Royals for recycling old talent, not embracing younger talent and building a team that could play a faster, transitional game that was the new reality in the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League.
The team did itself little favours on the ice, failing to live up to expectations. As a result, attendance was down. Coates did seek a better deal from the Pepsi Centre and made drastic moves to bring people to the arena when he went as far as stopping the local radio station from carrying the games.
Coates kept the team inCorner Brookfor two-years. He wanted the team to succeed here and wanted to build a winning team. His efforts weren’t rewarded and as a businessman, he faced the harsh reality of having to deal with the true economics of running a team in the NLSHL.
Some have indicated moving the team toDeerLakewill do nothing other than lower the costs of operating. There’s the perception thatDeerLakeis a “Red Wing” town and will only support a “Red Wing” team and that the “Royals” brand won’t work there.
DeerLakeis a hockey town. It’s filled with hockey fans and the absence of the Deer Lake Red Wings last season has starved the area for some good ole hockey! Everyone is forgetting there were large numbers ofDeerLakeresidents making the trek toCorner Brookto watch Langdon and the Robinsons lace up withCorner Brook. There were some games when the numbers fromDeerLakeout numbered those fromCorner Brook.
Ross Coates isn’t new to business and running a team in the NLSHL is a business. He didn’t just make the move without considering the economics and the pros/cons. He did what was not only essential to save his investment in the team but to keep senior hockey here on the West Coast because if you look at the new reality in the league, the five other teams in the league are located central – east. This league can and will survive withoutCorner Brookand even withoutDeerLakeas participants.
This is a move that allows Coates and the Royals to leave behind the baggage associated with the “Corner Brook Royals” and start a new chapter for senior hockey here on the West Coast. When the dust settles over this, there will be hockey here on the West Coast not in spite of the move, but because of the move.
A loss forCorner Brookis a gain forDeerLake. It’s too bad that it happened, but this is the new reality of senior hockey.
To weigh in on the discussion, don’t forget to visit http://www.nlhockeytalk.ca/hockey – where you will get the latest thoughts from fans, just like you.
The Clarenville Caribous are the 2011-2012 Herder Memorial Champions, taking game 5 of the series by a score of 6-3 over the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts.
This win more than seals Clarenville’s place atop of the Newfoundland hockey scene as one of the most dominating teams to play in the province at the senior level. They have cemented themselves in hockey history taking their third Herder in 4 years and in the only year they didn’t win this provincial award, they won the Allan Cup!
With the controversy surrounding the Herder Venue and Grand Falls-Windor’s public battle with Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador over moving the championship series away from home arenas, one has to wonder if this impacted their teams’ performance.
While the Cataracts did win the opening game of the series at Mile One in St. John’s, there were those who credited the win more to nerves and poor play by the Clarenville goaltender Jason Churchill. It wasn’t until Churchill got his bearings well into the second game of the series that the Caribous started firing on all cylinders.
The Caribous were the better team and in taking four games straight, proved one of the reasons why they were the best team throughout the regular season.
Team captain Dustin Russell was named MVP.
Congratulations to the Clarenville Caribous for their 3rd Herder Championship and for treating the fans in both St. John’s and Corner Brook to some great hockey action.
The finals have now been set for the inaugural edition of the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League playoffs with the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts and the Clarenville Caribous slated to square off this coming weekend at the Mile One stadium in St. John’s.
Throughout the regular season, the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts and Clarenville Caribous battled for top spot in the league. Younger legs and a much better transitional game showed just how well adapted these teams were for this new style of hockey that had unfolded the past couple of seasons.
Unlike previous years, the championship series will see the winner of the league playoff series being awarded the Herder Memorial Trophy. Before the winners of the east coast league and the west coast league faced each other in a championship to award the top award.
Some of the fans have expressed a bitter-sweet sentiment over their teams making the playoffs. Teams have to travel to play any of the games and fans wanting to support their teams will have to travel as well.
It will be interesting to see what attendance will be like in both Corner Brook and the Mile One stadiums as initial reports put ticket sales at an all-time low.
Some of the best hockey is to be played during the Herder and Corner Brook/St. John’s hockey fans will likely miss out by opting not to attend.
Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador (HNL) has rendered its decision. The venues for the Herder Memorial will remain as they had previously announced – Mile One in St. John’s and the Pepsi Centre in Corner Brook.
If you were to listen to the fans and management of the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts, the sky is falling. There will be no hockey in central Newfoundland next season, this is the end of the Cataracts organization and sponsors will drop the team like a hot potato.
Is this the end of the newly formed Newfoundland Senior Hockey League (NLSHL)? Are the teams in the league so fragile that this decision will cause the whole thing to topple like a house of cards?
Poll the fans across the island and we’re pretty confident everyone will sympathize with the plight felt by the Cataracts organization, its fans and its sponsors. Who wouldn’t want to bring such a high profile hockey game into their backyard especially if you are a small town team where hockey is the big ticket?
HNL made its decision not to stick it to the Cataracts but to raise the profile of the game and to hopefully add some stability to the senior hockey scene. It wasn’t meant to stick it to the Cataracts or to any of the teams for that matter. It was a decision to support the game we all love and to showcase the great product that steps onto the ice each weekend for our entertainment.
Does the whole future of the NLSHL rest on the Cataracts hosting the Herder? Is the league that fragile?
History has shown us that Newfoundland senior hockey is vulnerable. It imploded in the 1980s when teams brought in high paid imports, ran large deficits and eventually buckled under the financial pressures.
The Cataracts have indicated their future is uncertain given HNL’s decision. Fans have called for a boycott of the Herder games and some suggested should the Cats make it to the Herder finals, the team itself should send a message and boycott the coveted championship.
What would this prove other than driving a final nail in a fragile league?
When senior hockey disappeared from the province 20 years ago, it was a sad day. No one wants to go back there and hearing the doom-and-gloom statements coming from some senior teams is disheartening.
The revival of senior hockey in the province was a Godsend to the many hockey fans. Teams such as the Corner Brook Royals, Deer Lake Red Wings and Grand Falls Cataracts brought the game back to local rinks. Volunteers resurrected the Phoenix from the ashes and nurtured their fragile teams into contenders. They worked long and hard and succeeded when many doubted what they were attempting to do.
With Deer Lake withdrawing from the old West Coast Senior Hockey League before the start of this current season, many around thought this was once again the end of another hockey era. Once again, volunteers and dedicated organizations stepped up to the plate and hit a homerun.
They gave us the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League, embraced the concept that had been tossed around for years and expanded to incorporate teams from the east.
It was a good day for hockey in this province.
Still, as a hockey fan, a loyal supporter of the game we all love, one can’t help but feel vulnerable after watching the month-long drama over the Herder venues playing out in the realm of public opinion.
It showed a dirty side of the game, one that is about business, about making money and about doing everything that can be done to give individual teams an advantage over their competition financially.
The loyalty shown to their local fans and sponsors by the Cataracts organization cannot be questioned. They’ve done nothing but great things for their organization and have built a winner when many had them written off just a few short years ago.
We can question their motives that resulted in drama that unfolded in the wake of HNL’s decision. They have exposed the league, its fans and sponsors to the darker side of the game, one that should have been left in the boardrooms.
Some of the volunteers have been vilified and ridiculed. People have questioned their character and their loyalty to their respective towns and organizations when it’s been those same volunteers that fought for years to bring the game back for the fans.
There’s no questioning the reason behind all the fuss. All the fallout was for one thing and one thing only. It had nothing to do with the fans. This was a fight over money. It’s that simple.
Is senior hockey here in Newfoundland as fragile as people want us to believe? Most definitely!
HNL’s decision is a move in the right direction. It is at least an attempt to share the wealth throughout the entire league, not just the teams that make it to the Herder.
In the off-season it is important both the league and HNL work to improve communications and to promote the league. Hockey doesn’t stop because the ice is gone off the rink.
It lives on in the hearts of the players and in the dreams of the fans, something that many involved with today’s senior league have forgotten.
Approximately 14 months ago, Newfoundland Hockey Talk posted about a decision made by Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador (HNL) around the Herder Memorial Championship. We had received a series of email messages from a source, indicating there had been discussion and perhaps some decisions around declaring the Corner Brook’s Pepsi Centre and St. John’s Mile One Centre as the venues for all games for the Herder.
When we broke the story, we were criticized and people indicated this could never happen. It was up to the individual teams to decide where they would play the games.
Fast forward 14 months and we are here now in one of the biggest controversies of the season. Reality has sunk in and one team in particular, the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts are taking exception to HNL’s decision. The team sees this as a slap in the face to the team, its fans, the town and every sponsor/supporter that stepped up over the years to build the Cats into the great organization they have.
Why did HNL make this decision?
From what we have ascertained, this decision is meant to help spread the wealth, an attempt to introduce “revenue sharing” to assist struggling teams and perhaps “save” senior hockey in the province.
The Cats don’t see it that way and they see this as a money grab by HNL and they have been criticized the governing body for making the decision.
HNL has fired back indicating the decision is good for the senior hockey and it would not reverse its decision.
Newfoundland Hockey Talk can sympathize with the Cats position. We also understand where HNL is coming from with its stand.
However, what we do think, there’s something else happening behind the scenes that we are all not hearing.
If everyone thinks this is just about the Herder venue, they are truly mistaken. There are more things happening behind the scenes than HNL or NLSHL probably wants to even comment on.
The league has issues that include HNL’s Herder venue decision but ask why the other teams have been pretty much silent. One would think if this was such a major issue for the teams, their owners and representatives would be on this like white on rice.
Truly, this sucks for the Cats organization, its fan and the team supporters. Is this the signs the league is about to crumble?
If senior hockey is to survive here in Newfoundland, something has to change and there has to be a new approach taken to attract fans and change the impressions of the game. Teams must somehow make the game more entertaining off the ice and improve the product that’s on the ice.
Drop your thoughts about this on the Newfoundland Hockey Talk Discussion Forum.
The first half of the season is gone by and the Royals are sitting with 5 wins, 5 losses. If you read the discussions taking place about the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League you will hear some good and some bad things about the Corner Brook Royals.
This year is a bit of an odd year.
With the Deer Lake Red Wings taking a year to rebuild their organization, many of the Deer Lake players such as the Robinsons and the Langdons have suited up in the red-white-and-blue. It’s a bit of different dynamic given the rich history and rivalry these two teams had on the ice.
That’s where the rivalry stops … on the ice.
Talking to the fans, many are impressed with what the Royals are doing this year. They are playing some of their best hockey and could have easily won every game. Sure, they had some bad luck and couldn’t put the puck in the net at times and were unable to finish some great scoring opportunities … but you have to look at the situation as it was unfolding.
The Corner Brook Royals once again had a new coach. He may have had experience and some successes behind the bench in minor hockey but this is much different. Fitzgerald needed time to get his footing, feel out his players and understand the dynamics of the game. Some of his inexperience has shown through at times, quite evident in his lines and his on-ice match-ups but he has adjusted and is doing a fine job.
The players needed some time to also gel, to find their legs and to get a feel for how their new line mates played. It has taken some time and over the course of 10 games, the Royals have started to find their stride. Their passing has improved, they’ve finished their checks, have shown so much emotion and heart as of late, they have started to turn heads in this league.
Many had written the Royals off after their first weekend.
This is a team that is filled with competitors. Contrary to popular beliefs, there is no animosity in the dressing room, just a bunch of guys having fun and wanting to win.
For the fans who have decided to stay away from the game this year … you’re really missing a treat.
The new Corner Brook Royals is a great team. The organization is keeping true to its plan to rebuild this great organization.
Here’s the latest schedule for the newly formed Newfoundland Senior Hockey League for 2011-2012 (click to load a full view of the schedule).