Lashing out at senior league
Council members question handling of CeeBees’ return to AESHL
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.
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
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.