Stooping to a New Low in Senior Hockey

Updated: September 2, 2017

Newfoundland senior hockey has been shown just how dirty the sport can be this past week. Unfortunately, the ugly side of the game reared its head and it did not involve a single piece of on ice action. This time, it was backroom politics and petty men at the helm of the Avalon East Senior Hockey League that took the spotlight.

The AESHL made a decision to kick the Harbour Grace CeeBee Stars from the AESHL. They justified the move by saying the AESHL wanted to return to a four team league.

The move is a new low for Newfoundland senior hockey. This had very little to about returning to a four team league. It has more to do with the simple fact that the CeeBee Stars outplayed and outclassed the other teams in the league. Returning to a four team league was a simple rouse to disguise the disdain that the AESHL has shown towards teams that wanted to succeed in a league where mediocrity is the apparent ultimate goal being promoted.

The CeeBee Stars organization have been one of the most successful senior hockey franchises in Newfoundland winning 5 Herder Memorial trophies since 2000, with its recent win coming in 2017.  You would have been hard pressed to find anyone who would have given them a chance against the Clarenville Caribous. Yet, the CeeBee Stars did win in 2017 and that win was the stick that poked the hornet’s nest in the AESHL.

No one expected the CeeBee Stars to win. Yet they had dominated in the AESHL regular season, finishing with a record 18-2-1, 10 points ahead of their nearest competitor.  They finished the 2016-17 playoffs as league champions and ultimately Herder Champions (controversy in that series set aside). All this from a team that the AESHL wouldn’t let play in the 2015-2016 on fears they couldn’t ice a competitive team.

Now since the CeeBee Stars winning the Herder Memorial, the backroom politics, rumours and innuendo have filled the air. Of course, the most prominent was that the CeeBee Stars must be paying their players. Some even indicated that the other teams simply didn’t “trust” the CeeBee Stars and how they operated.

But wait. Things get a bit crazier.

Jack Casey, the St. John’s Capitals president has taken to the media saying he has no proof that the CeeBee Stars have cheated (by paying their players) but he is sure they did. The CeeBee Stars he said, are too advanced for the AESHL.  Apparently, the remaining four teams feel the CeeBees are in a different class than the remaining teams.

Yes, Mr. Casey that is correct.

The CeeBee Stars have outclassed the entire AESHL league and its executive. They have built a successful community based hockey team. They have attracted players who wanted to play for their community.  They have great volunteer support and are seen as a successful pillar in their community.

For the CeeBee Stars, it has been obvious they love the game, they love their fans, they love their community and this comes out in how they compete. They not only compete on the ice, they give back to those that support them.  The fans respond by showing their support. and it is reciprocated by great fan support.

Mr. Casey can hurl unfounded accusations without proof but just because he thinks it to be true, doesn’t make it so.  It’s a feeble attempt to detract from the larger issue that has swirled around the AESHL and how it operates.  The AESHL was able to control the CeeBees and subject them to mediocrity.

Maybe if the other teams in the AESHL worried more about their respective teams, they would attract a different caliber of player.  Maybe, there would be some pride in playing for a team that demonstrates its love for the game and for its community.  Maybe Mr. Casey and the other team presidents should look at the model that the CeeBee Stars has built and replicate that rather than slinging mud.  Maybe the other teams should have put in the hours of work required to build a winning team rather than huddled in the backrooms plotting.

Instead, the AESHL has done everything to hurt the CeeBee Stars and keep from competing in 2017-2018 because that was the easy thing to do.  Rather than buckling down and working towards winning, the AESHL took the lazy way out.  They kicked the CeeBee Stars from the league and then set out to discredit them by saying “they pay their players.”

Then it stooped even lower when it was clear the CeeBee Stars were going to have a successful fundraiser and be competitive again this season,  it kicked them out of the league.  It has nothing to do with being a four team league.  It has to do more with the AESHL attempting to control their little world of senior hockey.

The AESHL even had Service NL cancel the Chase the Ace lottery permit that the team was using because they are no longer affiliated with the league – stopping the CeeBee Stars from raising any more money, money that helped not only the hockey team, but others in their community.

A disgusting move by the AESHL in any stretch.

It’s quite simple, those running the other AESHL teams and executive members can’t handle the group of people working together in the CeeBee Stars.  They’ve attempted to make the CeeBee Stars look like the villain but instead, the AESHL has shown its pettiness.  No matter how much the remaining teams pat themselves on the backs and think they did the right thing there is one thing that is very evident.

The AESHL is the loser here.

Not only have they struck a blow to a great hockey organization, they struck a blow to senior hockey in the province.

A disgusting display of egos disguised as “Doing the right thing for the AESHL.”  Imagine, a league that kicks out its champions, the Herder Memorial Trophy winners because “they were too good”.

Only in Newfoundland senior hockey would you see this.

** Article was edited to correct grammar, spelling errors & context of some statements **


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.