Lash­ing out at se­nior league

Coun­cil mem­bers ques­tion han­dling of CeeBees’ re­turn to AESHL

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON

Hay­ward Blake was thrilled to see so many peo­ple out to en­joy the first home game for the Con­cep­tion Bay North CeeBee Stars since re­turn­ing to the Avalon East Se­nior Hockey League, but that didn’t stop the Har­bour Grace town coun­cil­lor from vent­ing about the league’s ex­ec­u­tive.

Dur­ing last Wed­nes­day’s coun­cil meet­ing, Blake dis­cussed the con­di­tions the team had to meet in or­der to re­turn to the league. The CeeBees did not play last sea­son af­ter four teams from the pro­vin­cial se­nior league left to form a new one. The his­toric se­nior hockey club last played in the AESHL in 2011.

“For what­ever rea­son, the ex­ec­u­tive of the Avalon East league seemed to put th­ese ob­sta­cles or road­blocks in to place (such) that I’m not sure that they re­ally want us to be a part of that league,” Blake told fel­low coun­cil mem­bers.

In par­tic­u­lar, Blake took is­sue with the league’s in­sis­tence that the CeeBees not re­quire the AESHL to fol­low through on a de­ci­sion in small claims court that awarded the team a share of prof­its from the 2010-11 sea­son. The CeeBees re­ceived $10,000 pay­outs at the end of both the 2008-09 and 2009-10 sea­sons.

Blake felt hav­ing the team choose last in the league en­try draft was un­fair given its sta­tus as a new­comer. He also took ex­cep­tion to the league’s direc­tive that the CeeBees cover travel costs for vis­it­ing teams and give 20 per cent of ad­mis­sion charges to the AESHL.

“As dif­fi­cult as they want to make it for us we will, I hope, rise above it, and I know we have a first-class or­ga­ni­za­tion,” said Blake.

Mayor Terry Barnes had some choice words to share about AESHL pres­i­dent Paddy Daly and Hockey NL pres­i­dent Jack Lee. The mayor has con­cerns about the ros­ter size for AESHL teams, which con­sists of 35 play­ers and al­lows them to hold on to those who might want to play else­where. There is talk that num­ber could drop be­fore the end of the sea­son.

“For Paddy Daly and Jack Lee … I think they should be called to task and they should be booted off the league,” said the mayor.

League re­sponds

Speak­ing with The Com­pass a day af­ter Har­bour Grace’s coun­cil meet­ing, Daly said he was sur­prised to hear coun­cil mem­bers were ac­cus­ing the league of mak­ing things dif­fi­cult for the CeeBees. He said the league ex­ec­u­tive had noth­ing but good talks with CeeBees rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the lead up to this sea­son, adding they were “pos­i­tive and pleas­ant to deal with.” Daly views the team’s re­turn as great news.

“I worked dili­gently to try and work out this deal with the CeeBees. I see it as a real plus for the Avalon East. No­body wants to see them fail, and no­body wants them to suc­ceed more than I do. As the league grows, it re­quires teams like Har­bour Grace to be in­volved, so we’re re­ally glad they’re back.”

On the is­sue of the court de­ci­sion, Daly said the league’s at­tor­ney and an­other mem­ber of the league’s ex­ec­u­tive brought that to the ta­ble and the CeeBees agreed to it. Daly told The Com­pass the mat­ter pre­dates his in­volve­ment with the league, there­fore he could not say much more about it.

On the en­try draft, Daly said the Bell Is­land Blues were guar­an­teed the top pick af­ter last sea­son, even with the prospect of ex­pan­sion likely on the hori­zon.

“It was a de­ci­sion the ex­ec­u­tive at the time com­mit­ted to, and for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons, be­cause ex­pan­sion was a pos­si­bil­ity this sea­son … Bell Is­land wanted to pro­tect their own pick.”

Shar­ing ad­mis­sion rev­enue is a pol­icy that ap­plies to all five teams in the league. On travel, Daly said there was no ne­go­ti­a­tion at all on that is­sue.

“The teams in our league, un­like the Cen­tral-West hockey league, are on an ab­so­lutely lim­ited bud­get. There were teams that would not vote for the CeeBees re­turn­ing with­out a bus sub­sidy. That was a non-starter pe­riod. That was the first thing put on the plate of (CeeBees ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber) Mark Reynolds and his team … but the league was never go­ing to be able to walk away from that, be­cause we have teams with no money.”

The league it­self felt bus­ing teams to Har­bour Grace would help en­sure player safety as weather changes.

The CeeBees will play at least 12 home games this sea­son, with ad­di­tional play­off games also a pos­si­bil­ity.

“For Paddy Daly and Jack Lee … I think they should be called to task and they should be booted off the league.”

Mayor Terry Barnes

PHOTO BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

The Con­cep­tion Bay North CeeBee Stars are seen here in ac­tion against the South­ern Shore Break­ers at S.W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium in Har­bour Grace on Oct. 24.

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