The Compass has learned that rumours of the Conception Bay North CeeBee Stars demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Word broke early Thursday (Jan. 24) that the team had held a team meeting to discuss the rest of the season prior to practice at the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace on Wednesday.
That much is true, but what is not true is the notion that the team would be closing up shop and ending the season.
Assistant coach Peter George confirmed the reports that the team was not financially strong.
The grind of the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League, being that it is a province-wide league, has been an adjustment for the team.
“Are we financially strong? Not exactly, but again that is the nature of the league. No team can honestly say they are financially strong,” said George.
The CeeBees have struggled through a five win and 12 loss season and trail the Gander Flyers by a single point for the fourth and final playoff spot, with three games in hand, including two this weekend in Deer Lake against the Western Royals.
Players on board
George shot down rumours that players were not getting paid.
“To this date, we have honoured all contracts,” he said.
Veteran forward Terry Ryan said “all players are on board” and will be “100 per cent in Deer Lake” where the CeeBees meet the Western Royals for a two-game set at the Hodder Memorial Stadium Jan. 26-27.
“We’re there for each other,” said Ryan. “We are a team on and off the ice.”
Ryan added that the team is committed to completing the season, making the playoffs and competing for a Herder Memorial Trophy.
“I will say that the organization, the coaching staff and the players are together in this,” said George.
The players and members of the executive have worked out an agreement to finish the year.
Ryan said both sides agreed to some changes going forward.
“We agreed on a budget and we are all on the level,” he said.
This budget is said to include some alterations to meals and other amenities, according to Ryan.
“Maybe, instead of a steak meal, it’s Subway sandwiches,” he said.
The hope of management is for the storied franchise to continue to push forward, complete the year and look to the future.
“We need to continue to work hard ensuring that the team survives,” said George. “What drives me and other members of the organization is the passion we have for hockey and the community.”
Sponsorships have not been a problem for the CeeBees. Many groups in the area have dedicated themselves to supporting senior hockey in the area.
“These businesses recognize the benefit that senior hockey brings to the surrounding communities,” said George.
Fundraising and volunteers have been at a steady climb for the club.
“We have more and more people coming forward with an end goal of forming an official booster club and I believe we are very close to that,” he said. “There are a lot of leaders in the community that want to see the CeeBees organization survive and thrive.”
Attendance has been a problem for the club. Enough fans have not been coming out to the rink and the CeeBees have been feeling the pinch at the box office.
Much of the slump at the gate has to do with a 1-8 record on home ice, but the team believes that if it can string a few wins together the trend will start to turn around.
“Looking up and seeing a full house on a Saturday night is truly gratifying and is the reason why most of these businesses support us,” said George.