Following a meeting between representatives of the AESHL and Hockey NL, the CeeBees are the last remaining team in the league. The other four teams have left to form a new league.
A letter dated Sept. 12, 2017, sent to Rob Leaman of Hockey NL states four of the five teams that formerly made up the AESHL were withdrawing from the league before the upcoming season.
The letter, signed by Pat Rose of the Conception Bay Blues, Ian Sullivan of the Southern Shore Breakers, Joe Maynard of the Northeast Eagles, and Jack Casey of the St. John’s Capitals, goes on to state that the four teams are looking to move forward with the creation of a new four-team league, similar to what had existed in the 2014-2015 season.
This leaves the CeeBees as the only team in the AESHL – two teams below the minimum requirement of Hockey NL.
Mark Reynolds, president of the Stars, told The Compass Thursday morning he hopes to see Hockey NL deny the application for a new metro-league.
“It was our recommendation to HNL that they not sanction a new league, that they let the Avalon East League rebuild its executive, who were done wrong, and for all teams to then re-apply to the Avalon East League,” said Reynolds. “There were no issues within (the league), and no need for a new league to be formed on the Avalon.”
Reynolds went on to explain that he, at the time of the interview, did not know what HNL’s decision was, but hopes to hear a response in the near future.
According to Reynolds, the other four teams have since made an offer to the Central West Senior Hockey League to have an interlocking schedule in order to play against the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts, the Clarenville Caribous and the Gander Flyers.
“Ironic, is it not, that these four teams did not want to travel to Harbour Grace, could not afford to have that type of scenario, thought that we were too good, thought that we were paying players,” Reynolds said, “and now they’re going to agree to have some interlocking games, and travel to those teams that do pay players, and are semi-professional teams.”
Reynolds feels as though this decision came about in an effort to get rid of the CeeBees. However, he added, the CeeBees plan to push forward in the AESHL, and have hopes of making it a four-team league once more. He noted there are some interested parties who have put applications into the league, and that despite the hurdles, the team is trying to keep the AESHL alive.
“The CeeBees are optimistic that there will be hockey in Harbour Grace this year, although we recognize that there are still some hurdles to overcome,” said Reynolds.
However, Reynolds had one major question following the ordeal – “Why is there a need for a new league?”
Reynolds believes that, behind all the recent decisions being made, there was pressure to have the CeeBees playing in the CWSHL. However, he said that the Stars have no interest in playing there.
“They’re happy in the Avalon East League, playing for sticks and gear. They have no interest in getting paid to play,” said Reynolds
Earlier in this month, the CeeBees got kicked out of the AESHL. Reasoning behind the decision included allegations that the players had been paid. Reynolds stated several times that this was not the case, and that there was no proof to back up any of the claims.
Now that the CeeBees have been allowed back into the league, and the Capitals, Blues, Eagles, and Breakers have left, Reynolds feels certain a vendetta against the team is alive and well.
When asked about where the resignations put the CeeBees in terms of playing, Reynolds says that the fate of the team rests with HNL’s decision regarding the creation of a new league.
“Shouldn’t the players (of the other four teams) be given the chance to play where they want?” Reynolds questioned. “A lot of the players don’t agree with what’s gone on here. They should be given the opportunity to go where they want.”
Reynolds also said that during the meetings held the previous weekend, it was made clear that representatives of the Western Senior Hockey League, and the Central Senior Hockey League were looking to the AESHL for ways to provide sustainability in their areas, and that they were taken aback by the recent state of the AESHL.
“This gang of four basically went from kicking us out of the league, realized they couldn’t do that, and now leaving the league, to try and start a new metro league,” Reynolds went on to say. “It just shouldn’t be. (The AESHL) was the strongest league, it had its most successful year last year, both on the ice and financially. But it’s just been a sleepless summer for us. We’ve been kicked in the kahunas over and over, and we just want to move forward.”