Go­ing to bat for the CeeBees

Avalon East vet­eran play­ers, speak­ing anony­mously, dis­ap­pointed there was no con­sul­ta­tion; say the move to oust Har­bour Grace is dras­tic

The Compass - - News - BY ROBIN SHORT rshort@thetele­gram.com

It’s not ex­actly a thor­ough poll of play­ers, but the gen­eral con­sen­sus among a hand­ful of vet­eran skaters in the Avalon East Se­nior Hockey League sug­gests they’re not en­tirely happy with the oust­ing of the Har­bour Grace Ocean En­ter­prises CeeBee Stars from the five-team cir­cuit.

Or more to the point, the play­ers are not at all pleased there was no con­sul­ta­tion be­tween the ath­letes and the rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the league’s other four teams — St. John’s, South­ern Shore, North­east and Bell Is­land — when the de­ci­sion was made to kick the CeeBees to the curb.

“No talks, no meet­ings … noth­ing,” said one player. “Zilch.”

The Tele­gram spoke with a hand­ful of vet­eran Avalon East play­ers, on the con­di­tion they nor the teams for which they play would not be iden­ti­fied (all are ac­tive play­ers, and none toiled for the CeeBees last sea­son).

Among those in­ter­viewed, none sup­port the de­ci­sion to re­move Har­bour Grace from the league.

In late Au­gust, the CeeBees were in­formed they were no longer wel­comed in the Avalon East league.

It was signed by of­fi­cials from the South­ern Shore Break­ers, North­east Ea­gles, Con­cep­tion Bay (Bell Is­land) Blues and St. John’s Cap­i­tals.

The league’s ex­ec­u­tive had re­signed ear­lier in the sum­mer.

The rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the four teams main­tain the CeeBees are pay­ing play­ers, which is against the league’s by­laws. There’s also a con­cern with the level of com­pe­ti­tion be­tween the CeeBees and the other teams — last sea­son, Har­bour Grace lost only three games in 21 starts, fin­ish­ing 10 points ahead of sec­ond-place North­east.

And the four teams main­tain the CeeBees weren’t on the up-and-up when it came to split­ting the Herder Me­mo­rial Tro­phy rev­enues.

“From our per­spec­tive, I think it’s ob­vi­ous to ev­ery­body there is a difference be­tween the CeeBees and the other four teams in the Avalon East league,” said Jack Casey of the Caps.

“There isn’t a sin­gle big smok­ing-gun kind of rea­son we need to do this. There is just a long list of small rea­sons.

“And we feel pretty strongly about our case, that we have the right to just play lo­cally.”

“I saw all this on Face­book when it was said and done,” said one player. “It was only af­ter ev­ery­thing was de­cided that we got this big, long group mes­sage.

“You would think the play­ers would have been con­sulted.”

The CeeBees, who came to the Avalon East league from the pro­vin­cial se­nior hockey op­er­a­tion, have long been ru­moured to be pay­ing some play­ers.

The prob­lem is, ar­gues a player, there’s no con­crete proof.

“We all know it’s not per­mit­ted, and we all signed off on it,” he said. “If there is 100 per cent proof it’s go­ing on out there (in Har­bour Grace), no ques­tion, there’s rea­son to kick them out.

“But at the end of the day, there’s not enough proof it’s go­ing on. I don’t think it’s wor­thy to be kick­ing out a team.”

The CeeBees won the league cham­pi­onship be­fore go­ing on to win the Herder. So it could be ar­gued an Avalon East league with­out the CeeBees evens the play­ing field a bit.

“True, but we’re hockey play­ers, are we like the chal­lenge up go­ing up against the CeeBees,” one said. “What do they think is go­ing to hap­pen? They’re go­ing to win for the next 10 years?

“Be­sides, the CeeBees were good for the league, too. They were the one team — and the South­ern Shore, I guess — that had a strong fan fol­low­ing, and it was fun play­ing out there (in Har­bour Grace).”

The lat­est twist to the whole saga came this month when it came to light the CeeBees are once again back in the Avalon East league. Prob­lem is, they’re the only team re­main­ing. North­east, the Shore, St. John’s and Bell Is­land have left to form a

They were the one team — and the South­ern Shore, I guess — that had a strong fan fol­low­ing, and it was fun play­ing out there (in Har­bour Grace).

new league.

“These are sup­posed lead­ers,” a player said of the league rep­re­sen­ta­tives, “but there are per­sonal is­sues com­ing into play.

“The pun­ish­ment does not fit the crime. I feel bad for the play­ers left on the CeeBees, who might not have a game of hockey. What about those guys? They’re just tossed to the side.”

The player went on to say he’s not overly con­cerned if one or a cou­ple of CeeBees are col­lect­ing com­pen­sa­tion.

“I don’t care … what­ever,” he said. “It’s not like it’s the Cen­tral-West league thing and they’re fly­ing in from Nova Sco­tia. It’s not that out­landish.”

The CeeBees are ex­plor­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of find­ing an­other two or three teams to join them in a league. Mount Pearl and Par­adise have ex­pressed an in­ter­est.

COM­PASS FILE PHOTO

Play­ers from some of the teams who played against the CeeBee Stars in the Avalon East Se­nior Hockey League and spoke with The Tele­gram said they were not sup­port­ive of the move to ditch the CeeBees.

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