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Cats offer organization’s side of Whiffen release story

letter to the editor
letter to the editor

In light of recent statements made in social media and in the local newspaper (The Advertiser), the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts find it necessary to respond to what has been misinformation that has been put forth regarding the release of goaltender AJ Whiffen.

The organization is very reluctant to comment publicly, but is concerned about possible misapprehension among its fans regarding the circumstances of the situation.

As AJ has already stated, he was unhappy with the decision not to play him at the recent Allan Cup competition. The decision on what players to use and how to utilize them has always been left to the team’s coaches and it has always been the position of the executive that any interference in the process would be completely inappropriate. Coaches are hired to make decisions that they feel are in the best interests of the team. The organization also recognizes the right of fans to debate, agree with or disagree with those decisions. Such is the nature of competitive sport.

However, they feel certain points which have been made publicly require a response.

AJ Whiffen has stated that that it was not his choice to leave the Cataracts. Yet, during Allan Cup play, he made it known to many people, including his teammates and members of the organization, that he would never play for the team again. Furthermore, on arrival at St. John’s Airport, Sun., April 17 following Allan Cup play, AJ approached Cataracts president Stan Coffin and requested his release from the team.   

He was not given his release immediately in hopes that there might be a change of heart over the summer months.

There was also the comment that nobody from the Cataracts organization contacted him over the summer about playing this season. Nobody on the team was contacted about their intentions until late August. However, AJ and other players were contacted in late June about participation in the annual Cataracts Golf Tournament. There was no response from AJ.

Late in the summer there were attempts to contact AJ both by telephone and text (phone logs and text records verify this) asking AJ to contact a member of the Hockey Operations committee. Then, on the evening of Sept. 12, 2016 a member of the Cataracts executive managed to contact AJ by phone, as the Royals dispersal draft was just two days away and the team needed to know where things stood. There was a lengthy phone conversation of some 30-40 minutes during which there was discussion of what it would require for AJ to agree to remain with the team.

While it is not the intention of the Cataracts to reveal the specifics of what was discussed, it can be said that the involved both financial and non-financial concerns. In the end, there was no agreement by AJ to stay with the team.

That same evening the Cataracts executive met to discuss the situation and it was agreed at that time to grant AJ the release he had requested, making him free to sign elsewhere if he desired. The executive immediately, that same evening, tried calling AJ to let him know that they had agreed to his request but phone calls were unanswered. Given that he could not be reached in person by phone the executive sent AJ a text so that he would know, as soon as possible, where he stood. It has been stated that the only communication he received was a late-night text informing him he had been released. Two days later it was announced that he had signed with the Ceebees hockey club. Following his departure, the Cataracts signed import goalie Bryan Gillis.

The Cataracts would like to make it very clear to their fans, that at no point did they set out to ‘get rid’ of goaltender AJ Whiffen, as has been the public perception created, but rather it was his response to events at the Allan Cup that brought about this unfortunate situation.

This will be the only public comment the Cataracts organization will make regarding this matter. We continue to focus our efforts on bringing a fourth consecutive Herder Memorial Trophy Championship to Grand Falls-Windsor.

 

The Grand Falls-Windsor Hockey Organization

The organization is very reluctant to comment publicly, but is concerned about possible misapprehension among its fans regarding the circumstances of the situation.

As AJ has already stated, he was unhappy with the decision not to play him at the recent Allan Cup competition. The decision on what players to use and how to utilize them has always been left to the team’s coaches and it has always been the position of the executive that any interference in the process would be completely inappropriate. Coaches are hired to make decisions that they feel are in the best interests of the team. The organization also recognizes the right of fans to debate, agree with or disagree with those decisions. Such is the nature of competitive sport.

However, they feel certain points which have been made publicly require a response.

AJ Whiffen has stated that that it was not his choice to leave the Cataracts. Yet, during Allan Cup play, he made it known to many people, including his teammates and members of the organization, that he would never play for the team again. Furthermore, on arrival at St. John’s Airport, Sun., April 17 following Allan Cup play, AJ approached Cataracts president Stan Coffin and requested his release from the team.   

He was not given his release immediately in hopes that there might be a change of heart over the summer months.

There was also the comment that nobody from the Cataracts organization contacted him over the summer about playing this season. Nobody on the team was contacted about their intentions until late August. However, AJ and other players were contacted in late June about participation in the annual Cataracts Golf Tournament. There was no response from AJ.

Late in the summer there were attempts to contact AJ both by telephone and text (phone logs and text records verify this) asking AJ to contact a member of the Hockey Operations committee. Then, on the evening of Sept. 12, 2016 a member of the Cataracts executive managed to contact AJ by phone, as the Royals dispersal draft was just two days away and the team needed to know where things stood. There was a lengthy phone conversation of some 30-40 minutes during which there was discussion of what it would require for AJ to agree to remain with the team.

While it is not the intention of the Cataracts to reveal the specifics of what was discussed, it can be said that the involved both financial and non-financial concerns. In the end, there was no agreement by AJ to stay with the team.

That same evening the Cataracts executive met to discuss the situation and it was agreed at that time to grant AJ the release he had requested, making him free to sign elsewhere if he desired. The executive immediately, that same evening, tried calling AJ to let him know that they had agreed to his request but phone calls were unanswered. Given that he could not be reached in person by phone the executive sent AJ a text so that he would know, as soon as possible, where he stood. It has been stated that the only communication he received was a late-night text informing him he had been released. Two days later it was announced that he had signed with the Ceebees hockey club. Following his departure, the Cataracts signed import goalie Bryan Gillis.

The Cataracts would like to make it very clear to their fans, that at no point did they set out to ‘get rid’ of goaltender AJ Whiffen, as has been the public perception created, but rather it was his response to events at the Allan Cup that brought about this unfortunate situation.

This will be the only public comment the Cataracts organization will make regarding this matter. We continue to focus our efforts on bringing a fourth consecutive Herder Memorial Trophy Championship to Grand Falls-Windsor.

 

The Grand Falls-Windsor Hockey Organization

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