Bay Roberts to com­pete for Herder?

Those be­hind new fran­chise say that’s not what they signed up for

The Compass - - OPINION - BY NICHOLAS MERCER THE COM­PASS

There are mixed view in Bay Roberts fol­low­ing word last week that the town has been awarded a new fran­chise to com­pete in the Avalon East Se­nior Hockey League (AESHL).

One of those who lob­bied for the ex­pan­sion team, Brian Hur­ley, said he’s pleased the bid was ac­cepted. But he has con­cerns about a de­ci­sion last week by Hockey New­found­land and Labrador to el­e­vate the AESHL to se­nior A sta­tus, thereby al­low­ing the league cham­pion to com­pete for the Herder Me­mo­rial Tro­phy, which is sym­bolic of se­nior hockey supremacy in the prov­ince.

Hur­ley said that’s not what he had en­vi­sioned, and said a de­ci­sion will be made over the sum­mer about whether or not a team will be iced.

“When we put the bid in, we had no in­ter­est in play­ing for the Herder,” Hur­ley, the team’s man­ager, stated on Fri­day. “That’s the CeeBees’ thing.”

Dur­ing the 2011-12 sea­son, the AESHL was clas­si­fied as a se­nior B league, which made it in­el­i­gi­ble to com­pete for the Herder. The league was re­clas­si­fied af­ter two teams — Mount Pearl and the CBN CeeBee Stars of Har­bour Grace — ex­ited to join the newly formed New­found­land and Labrador Se­nior Hockey League.

That left just Bell Is­land and North­east (Tor­bay), but the league was later bol­stered by the addition of the St. John’s Cap­i­tals.

If Bay Roberts moves for­ward with the fran­chise, the AESHL will grow to four teams.

“We have to de­cide be­tween now and Septem­ber on whether we are go­ing to keep the team,” Hur­ley stated, adding he was sat­is­fied to com­pete at the se­nior B level.

But Hockey NL had other plans, and an­nounced last week that the win­ners of both leagues will now go head-to-head for the right to hoist the Herder. This past sea­son, that right was only avail­able to the provin­cial league.

The last time there were two se­nior hockey teams in Con­cep­tion Bay North was in 1997 when the CeeBees and the Shearstown Tigers com­peted in the now-de­funct Avalon West Se­nior Hockey League.

“We have no in­ter­est go­ing back to the days of the CeeBees and Tigers,” said Hur­ley.

The pos­si­bil­ity of a fran­chise in Bay Roberts was first re­ported in The Com­pass in late Jan­uary af­ter it was learned that Hur­ley, along with his brother Kevin Hur­ley, would be ap­ply­ing for a spot in the AESHL.

Ma­jor changes

Bay Roberts is not the only al­ter­ation to the se­nior hockey land­scape in this prov­ince as the NLSHL will be in­creas­ing to six teams with the addition of the Gan­der Fly­ers.

The Fly­ers will be join­ing the CeeBees, Corner Brook Roy­als, Grand Falls-Wind­sor Cataracts, Clarenville Cari­bous and Mount Pearl Blades.

“Fans in all com­mu­ni­ties love to see a va­ri­ety of teams dur­ing a hockey sea­son and with this ex­pan­sion, less travel will be in­curred with the strate­gic lo­ca­tion of th­ese new fran­chises,” said Hockey NL pres­i­dent Jack Lee in a re­lease.

In an ef­fort to en­sure a greater sense of par­ity amongst teams in the provin­cial league, HNL has im­ple­mented an en­try draft level sys­tem.

How­ever, the sys­tem has not been fi­nal­ized, and Hockey NL has given the league un­til the fall meet­ings in Septem­ber to com­plete that.

The num­ber of im­ported play­ers per­mit­ted for each team has also been al­tered in the provin­cial league.

Each team will now be al­lowed to bring in one less im­port player.

“We con­tinue to work with the leagues to help re­duce the large bud­gets and lim­it­ing the num­ber of im­ports is a step in the right di­rec­tion,” said Hockey NL se­nior chair Gary Gale

Hockey NL is also do­ing away with the grand­fa­ther­ing of im­ports, mean­ing that a player’s im­port sta­tus will not change re­gard­less of how long he has been with a club.

Herder venure change

Af­ter last sea­son’s Herder fi­nal de­ba­cle, HNL has ex­pect­edly de­cided to re­vamp the process around the se­lec­tion of the fi­nals venue.

For next sea­son, teams in the fi­nal will have the choice of se­lect­ing the venue. Again, this has not been fi­nal­ized and will be at the fall meet­ings in Septem­ber af­ter a work­ing ses­sion fa­cil­i­tated by Hockey Canada’s Wayne Rus­sell.

Gale said there are still con­di­tions that will need to be met with re­gards to venues.

“Some teams have in­di­cated to us that if the Herder is go­ing to be in a smaller venue and it goes down to the wire, they need guar­an­tee in terms of num­ber of tickets they’ll get ad not just any ticket, it would have to be prime seats in the build­ing,” he told Transcon­ti­nen­tal Me­dia.

While teams in the AESHL have been bumped up to the se­nior A level, it does not mean they will get the op­porunity to se­lect a venue. The Avalon East rep­re­sen­ta­tive in the Herder fi­nal will play its home games at Mile One Cen­tre in St. John’s.

nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Pho­tos by Nicholas Mercer/the Com­pass

The host boys soc­cer team for the 2012 New­found­land and Labrador Sum­mer Games has been se­lected and will be ready to go when the Games kick off Aug. 18 in Har­bour Grace and Car­bon­ear. Mem­bers of the team are: front (l-r) — Ab­dul­lah Ra­heem, John Mweemba, Stephen Mac­don­ald, Devon Groves, John-Ross Gille­spie, Sam Azuria; back — coach Corey Pen­ney, Peter King, Tay­lor Janes, Jeremy Swain, Matthew Butt, Matthew Hoyles, Ryan Jones, Tyler Byrne and coach Ryan Cashin. Goal­tenders are Ryon Wil­liams and Josh Slade. Miss­ing from the photo is Colin Vaters.

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