Former Bearcat leaves Swiss league club
SC Bern considering legal action after Macdonald leaves without team’s permission
SYDNEY – A former member of the Truro Bearcats junior A hockey team may soon face legal action after he chose to leave a Switzerlandbased team without permission from the club.
Andrew Macdonald of Judique, Inverness County, left SC Bern of Switzerland’s National League earlier this month for personal reasons.
According to team general manager Alex Chatelain, the 33-year-old defenceman asked for his contract with the team to be terminated, but the request was denied by the club. Macdonald left the next day without further discussion.
“Andrew has a valid employment contract with SC Bern until the end of April,” Chatelain told the Cape Breton Post via email last week. “We are in a difficult sporting situation and therefore did not want to do without his services.”
Teams in the Swiss league are only allowed to carry a maximum of six players from outside of Switzerland. Among the other imports on the team are Canadians Christian Thomas and Andrew Ebbett.
“At this point in time, we could not have replaced him by another import due to regulations,” said Chatelain. “We understand his personal situation, he had a valid contract, and from the point of view of the club, there was no understandable reason to dissolve this contract.”
Macdonald signed with SC
Bern on Oct. 21 after being released from his professional tryout with the NHL’S Calgary Flames earlier in the month.
In an email to the Cape Breton Post, Macdonald’s agent, Pat Curcio, wouldn’t confirm the personal reasons why Macdonald left the club, however, he hinted about possible COVID-19 concerns.
“When all the games were postponed with the possibility of cancellation because of the coronavirus, we thought it was best for Andrew to get home with his wife and children, his wife being alone with the kids and concerns that Andrew could be quarantined for a long period of time in Switzerland,” said Curcio.
“We all have to agree that family comes first in these unpredictable times with the coronavirus and game cancellations.”
According to Chatelain, Macdonald was given “a few days off” at the beginning of February so he could go home, while the rest of the team trained during that time.
The team says it reserves the right to take legal action against Macdonald, however, as of now, the club tells the Post “only clarifications of the possibilities have taken place.”
Curcio wouldn’t comment on the possible legal action.
After playing major midget in Cape Breton in the early 2000s, Macdonald played two seasons with the Bearcats of the Maritime Junior Hockey League, before joining the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Moncton Wildcats.
Macdonald played two seasons with the Wildcats, winning the 2006 QMJHL’S President Cup with the New Brunswick-based team.
In 2006, the six-foot-one, 190-pound Macdonald was drafted by the New York Islanders in the sixth-round, No. 160 overall, at the NHL Entry Draft.
Macdonald spent time between the American Hockey League’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers and ECHL’S Utah Grizzlies, before making the move to the NHL.
Over his 11 seasons in the NHL, Macdonald recorded 28 goals and 133 assists along with 276 penalty minutes and a minus-11 rating in 586 career games between the Islanders and Flyers.
Macdonald was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers on March 4, 2014, and later signed a six-year contract extension worth $30 million with the team.
Last June, the Flyers placed Macdonald on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating the final year of his contract, this after he recorded only nine assists in 47 games during the 2018-19 campaign.
Macdonald received a professional tryout with the Flames, but was released. He later signed with SC Bern. Terms of the contract were never released.
He appeared in 15 games with the 16-time Swiss league champions, recording one assist. He never managed to secure a regular spot in the team’s lineup.
Macdonald represented Canada at the 2019 Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland, in December, helping the team defeat HC Ocelari Trinec, 4- 0, in the championship game on Dec. 31. He had one goal in four games at the tournament.
Late last week, the National League announced the cancellation of its top two divisions’ season prior to the league playoffs because of growing concerns over COVID-19.
At the time, the Swiss league became the seventh European-based hockey league to cancel its season due to the global pandemic.
SC Bern (22-19-9- 0) won the league championship in 2019. At the time of the season cancellation, they weren’t in a playoff spot.
Andrew Macdonald of Judique is shown wearing the SC Bern jersey. After 11 seasons in the NHL, the defenceman signed with the Switzerland team in October and appeared in 15 games with the club.