Adam passes on Ceebees of­fer

De­vel­op­ments ex­pected this week on fu­ture of se­nior hockey

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION - BY TERRY ROBERTS

Russ Adam has de­clined an of­fer to be­come the new head coach of the Con­cep­tion Bay North Cee­Bee Stars se­nior mens’ hockey team.

But the for­mer Amer­i­can Hockey League as­sis­tant coach and pro­fes­sional player has said he will as­sist the team in a lesser role, said Peter Ge­orge, an ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber with the CeeBees who also served as as­sis­tant coach last sea­son.

“He told us he couldn’t make that kind of com­mit­ment,” Ge­orge said last week. “ But he wants to bring some sys­tems to the team, and he wants to be in­volved in prac­tice.”

Adam’s de­ci­sion means the team will have to con­tinue its search to find a re­place­ment for Ian Moores, who stepped down re­cently as head coach.

“ We’re con­fi­dent we’ll find a good coach,” Ge­orge added. “It’s not a worry, but it’s a pri­or­ity.”

Adam could not be reached for com­ment last week, but told The Com­pass last month he was con­sid­er­ing the of­fer.

“ I still have a pas­sion for hockey and I en­joy coach­ing,” said the 50- year-old, who was a player-coach in the old New­found­land Se­nior Hockey League, and served as an as­sis­tant with the for­mer St. John’s Maple Leafs of the AHL. Adam played a short stint with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the early 1980s.

Hockey un­cer­tainty

The team’s search for a new coach comes as un­cer­tainty con­tin­ues to swirl around se­nior hockey on the prov­ince’s east coast.

The Har­bour Grace-based CeeBees, along with teams in Mount Pearl and Clarenville, have been at­tempt­ing to es­tab­lish a new three­team league for next sea­son. It would see the CeeBees and Mount Pearl break away from the Avalon East league, and Clarenville leav­ing the west coast league.

Hockey New­found­land and Labrador re­fused to sanc­tion the pro­posal at its an­nual meet­ing in Gan­der last month, but ap­pointed a spe­cial sub-com­mit­tee to ex­am­ine how to ad­min­is­ter se­nior hockey to the ben­e­fit of all teams and leagues.

A fol­low-up meet­ing was held in Gan­der June 29, with var­i­ous rep­re­sen­ta­tives gather­ing to dis­cuss the is­sue.

Ge­orge at­tended the meet­ing, but was tight-lipped about what tran­spired. He ex­pects some de­ci­sions to be an­nounced by later this week.

“ We had a lot of great dis­cus­sion. We left the meet­ing quite happy,” said Ge­orge.

Mean­while,Ge­orge said he will not re­turn as an as­sis­tant coach next sea­son, but will stay on in an ex­ec­u­tive ca­pac­ity.

Ge­orge said he re­cently met with a “core group” of the team’s ros­ter to dis­cuss the need to “make some changes” for next sea­son. He said there was “ buy-in” from the play­ers.

Whe n a s k e d a b o u t those changes, Ge­orge talked about the need for more flex­i­bil­ity in terms of player re­cruit­ment. He also sug­gested there needs to be a salary cap to en­sure teams from the east coast can re­main com­pet­i­tive with those on the west coast.

“ With Rev­enue Canada de­mand­ing that teams open their books, a salary cap could work,” said Ge­orge.

No chance at Herder

The CeeBees have won seven straight Avalon East league cham­pi­onships, but have been crushed in the past three Herder Me­mo­rial Tro­phy fi­nals against the win­ner of the west coast league, with a record of just two wins in 14 games.

It’s sym­bolic of the prob­lems in se­nior hockey in this prov­ince, said Doug Moores, a long­time ex­ec­u­tive with the CeeBees. Moores has also in­di­cated he will be end­ing his in­volve­ment with the CeeBees.

“ We have two sets of rules for the two leagues, and un­der those rules, the East league has no chance,” said Doug Moores.

In the west, said Moores, the teams are in­de­pen­dent, there’s few re­stric­tions on im­ports, there’s no player draft and the teams are free to set their own at­ten­dance prices.

He said all four teams are com­pet­i­tive, mean­ing teams can hone their skills through­out the sea­son and at­tract a large and sta­ble fan base.

In the east, he noted, only two — CeeBees and Mount Pearl — of the four teams are com­pet­i­tive, which dis­heart­ens fans, di­min­ishes the cal­i­bre of play, and re­sults in shrink­ing rev­enues. What’s more, Moores added, the Avalon East cham­pion must play its Herder games at Mile One Cen­tre in St. John’s, do­ing away with home ice ad­van­tage.

Moores said the rev­enue shar­ing agree­ment in the Avalon East league is also un­fair, with all four teams get­ting an equal split at the end of the year, de­spite the fact the CeeBees “gen­er­ated 80 per cent of the funds for the league.”

Many of the best play­ers on the east coast have mi­grated to the west coast, drawn by siz­able pay­cheques and other perks, while Bell Is­land and Tor­bay do not pay their play­ers, Moores said.

“ If both leagues had the same busi­ness mod­els, no­body would beat us,” Moores stated, “ be­cause ev­ery­one wants to play with the CeeBees.”

What’s the fu­ture of se­nior hockey? Moores said it’s not great.

He said the pool of play­ers is shrink­ing, the ex­pense of run­ning a team is grow­ing, and there’s only so much money that cor­po­rate spon­sors are wil­ing to in­vest. He added that fans in the Con­cep­tion Bay North re­gion have very high ex­pec­ta­tions, and won’t tol­er­ate a medi­ocre team.

“Let’s just say it’s on shaky ground at the mo­ment,” he said.

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