© Compass file photo
The Newfoundland Senior Hockey League is big business. In order to compete, teams need to have stable cash flow. It doesn’t have to be a large cash flow, but it helps.
Some of that comes from corporate sponsors and fundraising efforts, but for the most part, a strong fan base plays a huge role.
The fans are what drive ticket sales, enticing sponsors to come on board. The more fans who see their logo, the better they stand to gain from the partnership.
Ticket sales mean more people in the rink, and a greater 50/50 prize and a greater cut for the team. A large community support system also aids teams when it comes to fundraising efforts in the town.
That’s why centres like Grand Falls-Windsor, Clarenville and Gander have no trouble paying some of the best talent to play for their clubs.
That’s why the Cataracts could pay d-man Luke Gallant a rumoured $1,200 every weekend.
Without all of these things, excluding the big time contract of course, it becomes harder and harder for teams to survive.
That’s why it becomes that much more important that the fans of the Eastlink CeeBee Stars get out to the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace and support your team.
It is widely known that the CeeBee faithful have one of the more devoted and strongest fan bases in the history of senior hockey in this province.
There are stories of travelling caravans traversing the highways of yore with the intent of watching the CeeBees compete in far away lands like Gander and Corner Brook.
The playoffs last season were a prime example of that. Sitting in Grand Falls-Windsor and Clarenville, there were pockets of CeeBees fans everywhere.
During Games 1 and 2 of the Herder final, CeeBees nation took over the Clarenville Event Centre.
Just speaking from an observational standpoint, having that fan support in a visitor’s rink does wonders for a player's confidence.
It was something to see the team playing and acting like it was a home game.
Even at home, the CeeBees drew numbers of fans I haven’t seen at the stadium in my two years of covering the league.
It was amazing to see a jammed house for the Herder final.
But, where were a lot of those fans when the team was on the ropes?
Sure, the base came around in the end, but the CeeBees need them from the start.
Fans need to get behind this team, which, in my opinion, will be an entertaining team to watch.
Sure, the team lost the Delaneys, Thomey and the services of Robert Slaney, but there are talented players suiting up this season.
The CeeBees recently picked up Brad Yetman and Cody Roach. Everyone knows what Roach brings to the table and he will help this team.
And, Yetman played four years in the QMJHL. That doesn’t happen by accident.
The always dependable Mike Dyke is still manning the blueline for the ‘Bees and Jordan Escott is primed for a big-time sophomore season in Harbour Grace.
All is not as blue as some would lead you to believe.
Fans are attracted to stars. It’s not a secret.
It’s why the whole world focused on Wayne Gretzky 25 years ago, but the Edmonton Oilers still had Mark Messier, Jari Kurri and Glenn Anderson.
All of the three former CeeBees listed above were stars in the NLSHL, however, the team is not lost for talent.
This team is going to be hard working and talented. This team is going to have an entertaining product on the ice. This team will win games.
So, get out and support them.
They need it.
— Nicholas Mercer is a reporter/photographer with the Compass. He writes from Bay Roberts and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.