Is it time to export the imports?

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A pair of WCHSL coaches weigh in on hired guns and goons

St. John's -

Import players in todays provincial senior hockey scene are not the high-powered offensive dynamos they once were. Gone are the days of Robbie Forbes, Danny Cormier, and Marc West. The only import in the west cracking the top 20 in scoring is the Cataracts Martin LaPointe (look for a feature story with the Grand Falls-Windsor rearguard in a future edition of the Telegram.) Nope. Nowadays imports in the West Coast senior league are generally grinders and utility players brought in to fill a hole and play a role. Think the Cats heavyweight Tristan Manson, the Red Wings versatile Kyle Spurr, or Corner Brooks Richard Paul. Regardless of what purpose they serve, the controversy over whether theyre needed has always been a contentious issue. Grand Falls-Windsor coach Walt Lewis feels they add quality and colour to the league and personally feels teams should be permitted to take four imports, instead of the league mandated three. (Read their policy on imports) Theyre about playmaking, theyre about team contribution, and a wide array of things. It bodes for some very interesting play and chatter around the league, says Lewis. The extra import would probably bring the up the level (of play) a little bit more and that gets more people into the rink. Senior hockey legend Randy Pearcey thinks otherwise. And while his Clarenville Caribous use the maximum number of imports, those players arent the most important players on the team. Take the teams first 16 games for instance; Pearcey used just one import player a former AHLer Ryan Lauzon from Halifax for four of those games. And we were either in first or one point out of first. And in recent weeks, the Caribous added two more import defencemen, Dan Rogers and Jordan Smith from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont. Those guys fly down here on Friday afternoons, they fit in like a glove, and love what they're doing, Pearcey says of the two blueliners. But are they any better than what local kids we've got? I don't think so. I think they're good players, but I think we underestimate our value in terms of our ability to perform on a stage. We've got so much talent in NL, but we really underestimate our skill. So the jury is still out on imports. But theres a feeling amongst some in hockey circles that if a provincial league were formed next year or down the road, import players are an issue that will cause a great deal of debate.

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  • Sid
    July 27, 2010 - 13:55

    Good article Ken ... In small towns who wish to successfully compete in senior hockey the talent pool just isn't there. In St. John's there are enough players to attract two /three competitive teams thus no imports are necessary. In Gander or Grand Falls or even in Sville you need imports to simple compete. Granted some of the imports are not as good as locals but they never the less draw the fans. Your recent story on Martin Lapointe of the GF Cataracts is a good example. This is a highly skilled player, who leaves his job every weekend to play at a very competitive level and is enjoying the rewards it brings. The fans want to see this talent.

    AS for importing goons you have to look at it another way. When former pro Darrin Langdon goes around slashing people and forcing them to leave the game because of injury someone has to address this or else teams that are trying to compete have only two options.. fold the club or fight back with toughness. Until this league gets its act together on violence and sets some standards the import rule will have to be there...

    Oh yes when you put 1,000 people into a building on a Sunday afternoon and charge them $10 its called entertainment. Its a business and you have to be competitive. Keep the imports I say. Two per team.

    Good dicussion. Good story Ken.