In this Nov. 9, 2014 file photo, Keith Delaney (right) of the Clarenville Caribous and the Corner Brook Royals’ Matthew Thomey compete for the puck during Central West Senior Hockey League action at the Pepsi Centre in Corner Brook. The two are now teammates after a recent trade that sent Delaney from the Caribous to the Royals.
©TC Media file photo/Geraldine Brophy/The Western Star
Keith Delaney isn’t bitter about a trade that sent him to the Corner Brook Royals last week, but leaving the Clarenville Caribous is still a little bittersweet for the veteran senior hockey player.
“I can’t help but feel like there was a little bit of unfinished business out in Clarenville,” says Delaney, who spent two full seasons and the greater balance of the 2015-16 Central West Senior Hockey League (CWSHL) campaign with the Caribous since being traded along with his brother, Ryan, to Clarenville in the summer of 2013.
“I know a lot of people worked very hard in Clarenville to bring a championship there. I wish we could have done it as a team,” adds the 36-year-old from North River in Conception Bay North,
Heading to Clarenville in return were 23-year-old defenceman Rodney Mahoney of St. John’s and 24-year-old right-winger Andrew Smith from Corner Brook. Both are products of the Maritime Junior A Hockey League, with Smith also having spent one full season with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Victoriaville Tigers.
Following the trade, Caribous general manager Ivan Hapgood told The Packet the move was based largely on the organization’s desire to get younger in its quest to win another Herder Memorial Trophy, something they haven’t done since 2012.
“We built this veteran team to gear up for the Allan Cup last year,” Hapgood told the newspaper. “As an organization, we certainly felt we weren’t strong enough at this point in time to win a Herder … (and this) will help us somewhat in achieving our goal of another run. If we’re unsuccessful in that run, we brought in two players under the age of 25 for a veteran player who will probably retire when the season is over anyway.
“For the everyday fan who still looks out and says Keith Delaney is still an elite player in this league, it’s hard for them to fathom that.”
Despite Hapgood’s observations, Delaney, a four-time Herder winner with the Conception Bay North CeeBee Stars, says he has no intentions of retiring at season’s end. He recognizes the league is getting younger every year and that he has to work a little harder to keep up, but he’s not satisfied to call it a career just yet, or any time soon it would seem.
“I'm still going at it as hard as I can, training in the off-season, trying to do the right things to stay competitive,” he says. “By no means am I satisfied to look back and say ‘I've got a couple of Herders now.’
“I want to win again, I want to win this year and I'll come back next year and want to win again. It's just something I want to do.
“As long as there's a team willing to have me on their roster, I'll be looking to play.”
In Corner Brook, Delaney joins a Royals’ squad he’s mostly unfamiliar with. Outside of Matthew Thomey, a teammate for one year on the CeeBees, and fellow C.B.N. native Ryan Penney, his only connection to the club is through coaches Darren Langdon, Darren Colbourne, and league elder statesman Mark Robinson, all three of whom were members of the Deer Lake Red Wings during their rivalry with the CeeBees in the late 2000’s.
“It was the first time in a long while to be walking into a very unfamiliar territory like that,” says Delaney, “but all the guys were best kind when I went out this past weekend.”
That Delaney was even in the Royals’ lineup for back-to-back losses to the Gander Flyers last Saturday and Sunday in Gander was surprising. Heading into the holidays, he was dealing with discomfort in his left side and shortness of breath, which was eventually diagnosed as pneumonia.
Always the competitor, he jumped in his truck and made the trip over the TCH ready to play, even if it was in a “limited role.”
“Even if it's only senior hockey in Newfoundland, I still look at it as you have to be professional about it and represent your team and the people who are fundraising, out in the community selling tickets and doing all this kinds of stuff to put the team together. All that goes on in my head when I'm playing.”
The Royals and Flyers go at it again this weekend, this time at the Corner Brook Civic Centre. Meanwhile, the Caribous head to Grand Falls-Windsor for a pair of games against the Cataracts at the Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium. Game times in boths series are Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 2 o’clock.