October 12, 2018
Grand Falls-Windsor, NL (October 12, 2018) The recent announcement of the establishment of the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League (NSHL) has been met with mostly favourable response from senior hockey fans across the Province. The commitment towards community-based hockey, collaboration amongst franchises and a revamped Herder Memorial Championships are the outcomes of a five-step strategic plan initiated by Hockey NL Senior Council.
At the same time the tactics of this strategic plan are being implemented, Hockey NL has been forced to respond to criticism as to why the CBN Ceebee Stars Hockey Organization have not been included in the newly formed seven team NSHL. Hockey NL President Jack Lee and Senior Council Chair Gary Gale would like to clarify a number of points pertaining specifically to issues that have been raised.
Q1. Why have the CBN Ceebee Stars not been included in the NSHL?
From the initial planning stages, Hockey NL made every attempt to include the Ceebee Stars in good faith as the parameters of the League were being developed. Draft divisional alignments and proposed schedules included the team and they were included in briefings and group discussions, including the Hockey NL June meetings in Gander.
Coming out of the June meetings and following the Fall planning session, there was an agreement in place amongst all team representatives to move forward with two leagues (CWSHL / ECSHL) of four teams that would look to play interlocking games. While concern was expressed concerning territoriality, player availability and team alignments it was understood that teams would work through the process at the time in order to get to a mutually beneficial position.
On September 21st, Ceebees’ President Mark Reynolds informed both Gary Gale and Neil Norcott (President, CWSHL) via email that they would be reluctantly withdrawing from the new proposed structure that they had originally agreed to on September 15th. They were not in agreement with plans for player dispersal and felt that they could not ice a competitive team with sufficient “A” calibre players.
At the same time, it was common knowledge that the team had been working behind the scenes to create a new league or a resurrected Avalon East League in collaboration with Mount Pearl and a new look Outer Cove franchise.
As a direct result of the Ceebee Stars’ decision to step away from the proposed structure and after a week of internal communications, the remaining seven teams met on September 29th with the objective of salvaging senior hockey and continuing implementation of the strategic plan.
Q2. The Ceebee Stars have been on the public record with what their franchise brings to both the League and team home gates – is this not accurate?
The Ceebees played most recently in the Avalon East Senior Hockey League during the 2016/17 season and the League facts do not support their arguments. Organization representatives routinely boasted capacity crowds (800+), yet their filings to the League shows a record of a home team attendance averaging 437 paid. This discrepancy was significant over the course of the season and resulted in under reporting of ticket sales in a League that shared gate revenues.
During the same season, home gates did not increase significantly when the Ceebees played. League figures show the following results (vs. other team averages)
St. John’s Caps +14
Southern Shore Breakers +50
CB Blues +104
Northeast Eagles -18
Q3. Could the NSHL still include the Ceebee Stars for the 2018/19 season?
Unfortunately no as the schedule is in its final draft stages as the League is scheduled to start before the end of October. Stadium commitments have been made, in addition to travel logistics and ongoing player recruitment activity.
Q4. Are the Ceebee Stars being unfairly dealt with?
Hockey NL Senior Council and the existing teams in the NSHL bargained in good faith to include the Ceebees in senior hockey plans for the upcoming season. It was widely acknowledged that the franchise has a rich tradition of hockey in the region and their fan base is deserving of a winter of hockey. However, based on a history of documented frustration and a lack of trust with existing team management, there is no current willingness to include them in immediate plans. The door remains open for future conversations and the possible return of hockey to the Danny Cleary Community Centre.
“Discussions with the Ceebee Star representatives over the past number of months have not been positive and they have been unwilling to negotiate in good faith to achieve a mutually beneficial relationship”, stated Hockey NL Senior Council Chair Gary Gale.
The NSHL will be formally announcing their League and Herder schedule within the next two weeks, in addition to revealing other League information.
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