Senior league reduced to four teams
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.