Cleary clears out

Hockey school leav­ing Har­bour Grace for Tor­bay

The Compass - - S22, - BYNICHOLAS MERCER THE COM­PASS

We looked at all fac­tors of what we wanted to of­fer, and if we want to grow and ex­pand our busi­ness I think a move

was war­ranted.

It ap­pears a decision to re­lo­cate the Danny Cleary Hockey School from Har­bour Grace to Tor­bay has paid off, with three of the four ses­sions sold out as of last week.

Or­ga­niz­ers of the school say the decision to leave S. W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium af­ter two years was based on ba­sic busi­ness prin­ci­ples.

“We looked at all fac­tors of what we wanted to of­fer, and if we want to grow and ex­pand our busi­ness, I think a move was war­ranted,” said Corey Crocker, head of on-ice op­er­a­tions.

Cleary, a na­tive of River­head, Har­bour Grace, is a Stan­ley Cup cham­pion with the Detroit Red Wings, and just came off an­other suc­cess­ful sea­son with the Na­tional Hockey League club.

With Cleary lend­ing his name to the event, and ac­tively tak­ing part in the train­ing ses­sions, the hockey school has been a ma­jor draw for the Con­cep­tion Bay North re­gion for the past two sum­mers.

Stiff com­pe­ti­tion

Crocker men­tioned that there are so many good pro­grams in New­found­land and Labrador, in­clud­ing ones run by Randy Pearcey, Jack Lee and Andy Sul­li­van, that of­fi­cials felt it was time to move base camp in or­der to bet­ter com­pete.

“We felt the move to Tor­bay was the right move be­cause of the pop­u­la­tion of St. John’s for par­ents com­ing in, most stay in trail­ers and do their back-to-school shop­ping,” he said.

For the group, St. John’s and the sur­round­ing area is a more at­trac­tive des­ti­na­tion for fam­i­lies who want to avail of in­struc­tion from a pro hockey player.

An­other as­pect fac­tor­ing into the decision to move the school to Tor­bay is the lit­tle mat­ter of the 2012 New­found­land and Labrador Sum­mer Games be­ing held in Har­bour Grace and neigh­bour­ing Car­bon­ear.

Dur­ing the games, run­ning Aug. 18-25, the S.W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium will be in use as the venue for ball hockey. The hockey school runs Aug. 11-20.

“The dates just didn’t line up,” said Crocker.

There would have also been a con­flict with need­ing to re­move the ice from the rink.

With the move, the hockey school will be com­ing full cir­cle, as the in­au­gu­ral year of the pro­gram was spent in Tor­bay, while the two fol­low­ing years were in Har­bour Grace.

“It’s never easy leav­ing, but this year it had to be done,” said Crocker.

Along with Crocker and Cleary, Ian Moores and Mark Reynolds are also Har­bour Grace na­tives.

Crocker said the group had “tonnes of suc­cess in Har­bour Grace.”

“It’s a very good hockey school and hav­ing Danny in­volved ev­ery day is de­light­ful for the kids,” he said.

When Cleary brought his hockey school to Har­bour Grace, it marked the first time the town had put the ice on the sta­dium dur­ing the sum­mer months, ac­cord­ing to Har­bour Grace Mayor Don Coombs.

How­ever, prepa­ra­tions for the 2012 Games pre­vented the two par­ties from com­plet­ing a deal, said Coombs.

“Re­al­is­ti­cally, it couldn’t hap­pen. We couldn’t get the ice time for them,” said the mayor.

The mayor said it would have been great to get a deal worked out, but with the need to pre­pare the sta­dium for the ball hockey por­tion of the Games, Coombs said that it would’ve been “im­pos­si­ble” to squeeze in the hockey school.

Fill­ing the gap

With the de­par­ture of the Danny Cleary Hockey School, there has been a void to fill for in­struc­tional hockey. But play­ers need only wait un­til Oc­to­ber when the Shoot For Ex­cel­lence hockey pro­gram re­turns to Har­bour Grace.

“We still wanted to serve the clients in the area,” said pro­gram di­rec­tor and Clarke’s Beach na­tive Rob French.

He does not see it as fill­ing a gap, as his pro­gram was run­ning the same time last sum­mer and in the fall of 2010.

“It pro­vides an­other op­por­tu­nity for play­ers to get in­struc­tion,” said French.

The pro­gram will be start­ing Oc­to­ber, a week be­fore the start of the mi­nor hockey sea­son.

“It’s a chance to ex­pand on the pro­grams we run on the West Coast and in Labrador and bring it to the East Coast and show what we have to of­fer,” said French.

The Shoot For Ex­cel­lence pro­gram was also look­ing to make a stop in Har­bour Grace this sum­mer, but, like the Danny Cleary school, was thwarted by the Sum­mer Games and its need for the fa­cil­ity.

nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Com­pass file photo

Corey Crocker In this 2010 Com­pass file photo, Danny Cleary speaks at a cer­e­mony for the un­veil­ing of an in­ter­pre­tive panel com­mem­o­rat­ing his hockey ac­com­plish­ments. The Danny Cleary Hockey School is mov­ing to Tor­bay this sum­mer af­ter two years at the S.W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium in Har­bour Grace.

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