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