Scratch Plan A. For now, at least. The St. John's Fog Devils, exploring options to ensure a competitive team is iced at next year's Telus Cup national major midget hockey championship, suffered a setback last week when the Kent St. John's Junior Hockey League delegates refused the team of 15- and 16-year-old players entry into the eight-team operation.
The Fog Devils won the bronze medal at this year's midget nationals in Levis, Que., only the second time a Newfoundland midget squad has medalled at Hockey Canada's premier minor hockey event.
Next spring, the St. John's Minor Hockey Association is staging the Telus Cup on Mile One Centre ice, and the hope is to have the Fog Devils well-prepared - or as prepared as any team can be that's losing 11 players off this year's roster.
Part of that planned preparation involved play in the local junior circuit.
But a motion to include the Foggies was defeated 9-2 by the league executive and team delegates.
Why that was is anyone's guess. Junior league president Bern Tobin isn't talking, and neither were at least two general managers - Avalon's Derrick Hutchens and Southern Shore's Mike O'Brien - when contacted by The Telegram.
Jack Casey, president of the St. John's Minor Hockey Association, the Fog Devils' host association, is also in the dark. But Casey has indicated he will be appealing to Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador and depending on that outcome, might even take the case as high as Hockey Canada's appeals division.
Add Jack Lee to the list of individuals disappointed in the junior league's refusal to allow the Fog Devils into their club. Lee is Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador's Minor Council chairman, with an obvious interest in how the Fog Devils perform next year at the nationals.
"The junior league has to understand this team, in the past, has played in the league and were quite successful. I don't understand why they would reject it," Lee says.
"It would have been a good team building experience for playing at a high level in the Telus Cup next year."
In its proposal, the St. John's minor suggests that, "without consideration from the (junior league), the future for the major midget team and the 2011 Telus Cup for that matter, is in doubt."
It goes on to suggest, "the loss of the Fog Devils program will hinder the development of midget players in the region, and ultimately lower the calibre of players that participates in the St. John's junior league in future seasons."
A large part of the St. John's minor/Fog Devils proposal is based on the absence of major midget hockey next season, stating, "as it stands today, it appears that there will be no major midget hockey league in the province next season."
Lee counters there will "surely" be a major midget league next season, but not in its current format. This past season the league was limited to three teams; the Fog Devils, Central Ice Pak and the Tri Pen Frost. The Northern Huskies have been absent for two years, and the Western Subways opted out this season, leaving many to wonder how long the league could continue to exist.
"I don't think midget hockey can exist in this province the way it has in the past. It has to change," Lee says.
"Change is hard at times, and Newfoundlanders and Labradorians don't accept change openly. It takes time for us to adjust to it."
He says plans, while in their infancy, are in place to restructure the league such that, "you'll see team in locations that will make it more beneficial an easier for the kids to get to."
In the meantime, the Fog Devils' junior hockey future rests with HNL's appeals committee.