WCSHL’s Future in Doubt

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Updated: February 12, 2020

Newfoundland Hockey Talk has learned that there is considerable doubt surrounding the future of the West Coast Senior Hockey League.

Readers may find this strange given the league’s apparent success, fan support and community involvement that people see in public.  However, we have learned that there are major issues happening behind the scenes with the potential to put an end to league operations.

Troubles for the league began on January 10, 2020 stemming from an on-ice incident involving the Deer Lake Red Wings Ryan Penney.  Penney was assessed a 2-minute interference penalty, a 5-minute major for slashing and a 10-minute misconduct for an incident against the Corner Brook Royals Brandon Hynes.

Hynes would have to leave the game.  He was diagnosed with a broken hand.  This ended his season and sidelined a player who is arguably the best player in the league.

Penney missed one game as a result of the incident.  Ultimately, Penney would be assessed a 3-game suspension under the WCSHL disciplinary protocol and would have been available to the Deer Lake Red Wings come playoffs.

This is where the future of the WCSHL begins to become murky.

After putting considerable effort into developing a memorandum of understanding surrounding player discipline designed to protect player safety, all three teams signed off on the protocol and appointed a representative to the disciplinary committee.

Deer Lake effectively circumvented this process and appealed the suspension to Hockey NL and senior council.  It took a just 1.5 days for HNL to convene a meeting to discuss the Penney incident.  This short time frame is unprecedented for anyone who has followed senior hockey in Newfoundland and Labrador.  HNL has consistently dragged its heels in making any such decision and given that the league has its own disciplinary protocol in place, would *usually* deny the appeal because it was a “league issue”.

HNL determined the 1-game missed by Penney was sufficient for the incident.

Sources have told Newfoundland Hockey Talk that the members of WCSHL’s disciplinary committee are disgusted with this decision.  In fact, the committee members have reportedly openly expressed their displeasure with the Deer Lake Red Wings for taking this to HNL and there is some indication these members, including the one representing Deer Lake, are now considering resigning.

Being dissatisfied with the 1-game suspension, the Corner Brook Royals filed its own appeal with HNL only to have that denied.

Newfoundland Hockey Talk have learned there is considerable push back occurring behind the scenes.

There are many alleging the Deer Lake Red Wings and HNL orchestrated the reduced suspension to give an advantage to the Red Wing organization.  Some who have indicated this this is clearly serving personal agendas.  Others have indicated that this also supports suspicions that attempts of alleged intimidation of the on-ice officials.

This fits into what other sources have revealed to Newfoundland Hockey Talk.  Apparently, some on-ice officials have raised concerns to the league of feeling intimidated when calling games in which Deer Lake has played.  There are fears that Deer Lake’s contravention of league protocols and HNL’s decision undermines their ability to perform their jobs on the ice.  Some officials have apparently described the on-ice environment as a “free for all” where some high-profile players now feel they are untouchable for their on-ice antics.

Some players have expressed similar concerns and have pointed this situation involving the Deer Lake Red Wings as a “prime example of favoritism”.

In speaking to Newfoundland Hockey Talk, some players indicated that there have been multiple incidents similar to the Penney incident.  Players are concerned for their safety and now feel the league is powerless to protect their interests.  Some players have said that certain penalties are ignored and that “dangerous actions of some players” are allowed to continue game after game without consequence.

The ripple effect this is sending behind the scenes presents a clear and present danger to the future of the WCSHL.

The Corner Brook Royals organization is extremely upset.  The organization is questioning why HNL “stuck its nose into league business” when the league had dealt with an issue that was in the process designed to protect players and guarantee their safety.  They feel that HNL’s involvement was inappropriate and that Deer Lake showed its true colours in bypassing the league and appealing directly to HNL.

Sources close to the team have indicated that the executive have contemplated resigning.

This could potentially mean an early end to the West Coast Senior Hockey League.

Our sources have indicated that there is a consensus behind the scenes that HNL’s actions follows a pattern of bias towards the WCSHL in general.

Hockey NL and its senior council have consistently ignored the great things taking place within the West Coast Senior Hockey League and within the Corner Brook Royals.  The creation of the WCSHL grew from an idea put forward by many now involved within the Royals organization.  HNL had apparently expressed major skepticism over whether the WCSHL would survive.  However, with several successful seasons under its belt, HNL has never acknowledge the league’s successes, including the vast sums of money the Corner Brook Royals have donated to charities and community groups throughout the reason.

There is no denying the dedication shown by the Corner Brook Royals organization.  Players, coaches, organizers, volunteers and management feel they have built a great organization and are proud of what they have accomplished.  HNL should be embracing this format and use it as a pattern to promote senior hockey throughout the province and stop with the favoritism and poor judgement it has continually shown when it comes to senior hockey.

While this situation is very volatile, here at Newfoundland Hockey Talk we feel there is a high likelihood that calmer heads will prevail and that the WCSHL will continue through the upcoming playoffs out of respect for its fans.

However, the future of the WCSHL is now looking very bleak.

Correction: The article had previously indicated that a match penalty was assessed.  This was incorrect.  Penney missed one game.  Newfoundland Hockey Talk apologizes for this error.

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