Late season "tradition" continues in Labatt Avalon East senior league
I got my start in Telegram sports at the end of January last year (the 29th if youre thinking about sending me a little something-something to commemorate the occasion), at which time I had already missed the great C.B.N. CeeBee Stars player re-emergence. After reading so much about it since then, sometimes too much, I have to admit I was eager to see how it would all play out this season. Last week the CeeBees welcomed back Jeff Oates, Todd Ballah, Mike Stevens, Paul Brown and Gary Sparkes all inked in time to get six games under their respective belts and be eligible to play in the playoffs. Randy Reardon is still rehabilitating his surgically repaired knee, dont expect him back. In turn, apparently Steven Greeley, Tommy Snow and Peter George were released. Regardless of who isnt re-signed, bringing back that many players at once has to have some serious lineup implications. Consider the Lynch-Thomey-Wadden line is probably the best second unit in the league this season. Will they stick together? Will they continue to be the second line or end up demoted to the third despite their success. Personally, I dont like it and all the grumbling from the west coast about a lack of parity between the leagues come Herder time almost seems warranted now. Why should a team be allowed to keep a group of healthy players waiting in the wings until the very last allowable moment all for the purposes of having a better club in the playoffs. I understand the principle of Hockey Newfoundland and Labradors rule in this case, but I dont see why it continues seeing as how the only team that benefits from it is the CeeBees. At the same time, is it fair to punish or malign them for having the depth to pick from where other teams simply dont? All subjects that will undoubtedly come up at the senior hockey summit in Gander in about two weeks from now. While the CeeBees welcome back and dispose of players, at the other end of the spectrum, some teams have no choice but to see some of their best take leave from their respective clubs. Dave Brazil and the Bell Island Wave, for instance, will be without the services of forward J.J. Doyle (returning to Edmonton before being shipped to Afghanistan), and defencemen Todd Bath (out to sea for the next 55 days, though should return for the playoffs), Jeff Hurley (off to Arizona), Les Phillips (a helicopter pilot headed back to Manitoba), and Mike Sherman (now playing junior C hockey in Nova Scotia). Thats our biggest drawback, the issue of having consistent defensemen in the lineup, explained Brazil who used one of his junior standouts, Chris King, on the Waves blueline Sunday versus the Blades. Some guys are playing above their heads; guys we didnt expect would really be able to be a benefit to us, guys who would be fillers. Right now, theyre not only fillers, theyre earned a spot for themselves. Theres been a lot of pleasant surprises, but consistency is our biggest issue. And in Torbay, Steve Power and his West Side Charlies Sharks are without Kenny King (Alberta bound) for the next little while. It led to veterans Joe Pickett and Doug Crocker seeing ice time this past weekend. Theyve got a veteran presence about them, Power said. They know theyre not on the team to score goals, theyre out there to fill other roles defensively and theyre smart hockey players and something I think well have an advantage with. With the way the CeeBees are playing as of late and the success Greg Bird Dog Smyth has conjured up on the Shore, both Brazil and Power are going to need every advantage they can get in the post-season.