Se­nior league re­duced to four teams

The Compass - - SPORTS - arobin­son@cb­n­com­

the lone teams to both score more than 100 goals in the 24-game sched­ule and let in fewer than 100. The three re­main­ing teams — the Mount Pearl Blades, Tor­bay Sharks, and Bell Is­land Wave — all had win­ning per­cent­ages be­low .400.

While coach Moores says the league will be los­ing a very com­pet­i­tive team, he can point to a num­ber of events in­di­cat­ing other teams will im­prove this sea­son.

The Blades were able to re­cruit Randy Pearcey, who coached the Clarenville Cari­bous to back-to-back Herder ti­tles in 2009 and 2010, as well as his son An­drew, an of­fen­sive for­ward for the Cari­bous who was the MVP of the 2010 West Coast Se­nior Hockey League fi­nal. Mount Pearl na­tive and for­mer Mon­treal Cana­di­ens prospect Terry Ryan will also be re­turn­ing to the Blades af­ter a three­year ab­sence.

Tor­bay has at­tracted some new re­cruits, in­clud­ing Chris Mooney, the Clarenville Cari­bous sec­ond-lead­ing scorer from last year, and Moores also ex­pects Bell Is­land to im­prove with the ad­di­tion of new play­ers.

How­ever, the CeeBees have not been lethar­gic this off-sea­son, bring­ing back the broth­erly duo of Ryan and Keith De­laney, who both spent last year with the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts in the west coast league, as well as for­mer St. John’s Fog Devil Scott Bro­phy.

The dis­per­sal draft of for­mer Break­ers play­ers was sched­uled to take place Oct. 17. Moores says many of the team’s best play­ers have al­ready com­mit­ted to play­ing in the west coast league. Ryan Walsh and Dale Sul­li­van were re­port­edly ready to play in Clarenville, while Don Gosse and lead­ing-scorer Ray Dal­ton were also ru­moured to be in dis­cus­sions with west coast league teams.

“That still leaves quite a few play­ers that are hope­fully go­ing to be able to join the teams that are re­main­ing in the (AESHL) and make them stronger,” says Moores. Money mat­ters Break­ers spokesper­son Carter was par­tic­u­larly crit­i­cal of how money has af­fected the power bal­ance in se­nior hockey when speak­ing with The SportsPage.

“ This de­ci­sion, while ter­ri­ble ... was pretty well forced on us by our be­ing such as­mall mar­ketwith only so much monies avail­able to try and give some com­pen­sa­tion to keep our play­ers while they were be­ing of­fered ex­or­bi­tant amounts, some as high as $25,000plus travel costs and other perks. How can we be ex­pected to com­pete?”

Moores, while re­luc­tant to place blame, says the west coast league has been op­er­at­ing un­der its own fi­nan­cial scheme, de­void of rev­enue shar­ing ar­range­ments.

“ They have the lux­ury of sell­ing out and charg­ing as much as they want to get into games. It means they have much higher rev­enues to be able to af­ford to of­fer play­ers more money. In the east coast there’s al­ways been rev­enue shar­ing, where the league takes a por­tion of all rev­enues gen­er­ated, and it has been very hard for any of the teams in the east to even come close to com­pet­ing fi­nan­cially with the west coast teams.”

He ad­mits teams in the east coast league are pay­ing play­ers, though to what level may vary. Moores de­clined to com­ment when asked what was the high­est salary the CeeBees of­fered, but he does be­lieve a cap sys­tem would be ben­e­fi­cial to the east coast and west coast leagues.

“A cap would be ideal for all teams in­volved. Right now, it seems like there’s no ac­count­abil­ity for what teams can pay, or how they can ma­noeu­vre in terms of sign­ing play­ers with jobs. For some play­ers, (hockey) has be­come their pri­mary source of rev­enue.”

Player salaries have drawn the at­ten­tion of Rev­enue Canada. At the AESHL an­nual meet­ing last month, pres­i­dent Dicks told Transcontinental News, “a lot of the play­ers and teams have re­ceived no­ti­fi­ca­tion from Rev­enue Canada that T4 slips are go­ing to have to be is­sued.”

This could lead to teams pay­ing into the Canada Pen­sion Plan and Em­ploy­ment In­surance. Up to now, play­ers hav­ing been largely paid taxfree.

“ The days of pay­ing play­ers cash and them not re­port­ing (to govern­ment), I guess, are be­hind us,” says Moores.

Ticket prices were raised this sea­son to $10 for adults and $6 for chil­dren. Moores says the ex­ec­u­tive ini­tially con­sid­ered rais­ing them to $12 for adults and $8 for chil­dren, but later deemed it too high a jump.

This sea­son will still fea­ture 24 games for the CeeBees. To make up for the loss of the Break­ers, they will play the re­main­ing three teams eight times each. The reg­u­lar sea­son sched­ule had not been fi­nal­ized as of last Thurs­day, though Moores says the home opener for the CeeBees will def­i­nitely be Oct. 30 against the Mount Pearl Blades.

“Peo­ple will still get to see 12 home games in Har­bour Grace, the same num­ber as if South­ern Shore were in the league.”

The play­off for­mat will not be ad­justed, mean­ing all four teams will ad­vance, with reg­u­lar sea­son re­sults de­ter­min­ing which teams pair-off in the league semi-fi­nals.

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