‘It wasn’t an easy phone call to make,’ says CeeBees’ coach
Mike Thomas (24) was captain of the Memorial Cup-winning Saint John Sea Dogs in 2011, but Thomas, a forward and one of two import players on the Conception Bay North CeeBee Stars, has been released by the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League team in what CeeBees’ head coach Corey Crocker says was a ‘business’ decision. — Photo by Nick Mercer/Transcontinental Media/The Compass
On the eve of Newfoundland Senior Hockey League teams’ opportunity to bolster rosters in the league’s player draft, the Conception Bay North Eastlink CeeBee Stars were busy dropping a player.
Earlier this week, the CeeBees confirmed that import forward Mike Thomas had been released from their roster.
“It wasn’t an easy phone call to make. I’ve only known him for two months, but I felt like I’ve known him a lifetime,” says coach Corey Crocker.
“He’s disappointed, he liked Newfoundland and the guys, but he understands that it’s a business.”
Crocker says the decision to drop the gritty forward who won a Memorial Cup as the Saint John Sea Dogs’ captain last year had nothing to do with Thomas’s performance on the ice.
“Mike was true to our team, a great team player, but our need right now is another defenceman.”
Two of the CeeBees top four defenceman in Donnie Gosse and Doug O’Brien work in Long Harbour and have to work every second weekend. The duo were available for Saturday night’s game against the Western Royals, but not for Sunday afternoon’s rematch. As such, the CeeBees’ blueline in Sunday’s 7-4 loss consisted of just Mike Dyke, Tim Greene and Fred Earle, augmented Jamie Tobin, traditionally a foward.
“We can’t go into a place like Clarenville and Grand Falls-Windsor with three defenceman,” said Crocker.
Still, Crocker says the CeeBees are in no rush to fill the open import card, one of the two the team is permitted.
“We’ve got some time here, we’re not pushing the panic button by no means.
“We have three or four players we’re considering. We’ll make the best decision for our hockey team and what’s feasible with flights and things like that.”
While Crocker wouldn’t confirm it, one of those players could very well be rearguard Jared Tuton, one of the CeeBees’ three imports last season. Tuton played three seasons with the Univeristy of Alaska-Anchorage Sea Wolves in the NCAA’s Western Collegiate Hockey Association prior to moving to Newfoundland with his girlfriend last year and signing with the CeeBees.
Another name rumoured to be in consideration is former Mount Pearl Blades’ defenceman David Cornacchia.
Diamond asks for trade
In other CeeBees’ news, The Compass reported Wednesday that veteran backstop Freddie Diamond has requested a trade from the organization. Diamond has been with the CeeBees for nine seasons helping them claimthree straight Herder Memorial Trophy titles (2005-2007).
The 29-year-old from Bonavista told Compass reporter Nick Mercer he was hurt by the lack of communication regarding the team’s plans between the pipes for the upcoming season. The CeeBees used their second import card on goaltender Charles Lavigne, a product of St. Thomas Tommies and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
“A phone call throughout the summer... saying, ‘hey Freddie, we’re going to use an import goalie and he’s going to play most of the games and if you want to go somewhere else, thanks for the nine years here and it’s time to move on’... something like that would’ve been alright,” he told Mercer. “There was none of that.”
Diamond said he has been contacted by the Gander Flyers, a young team he feels could benefit from his experience at the senior level. What is clear is that Diamond wants to remain a starter and not play a backup role.
““Personally, I think I can still play,” he said. “It’s too early to retire yet.”