Newfoundland and Labrador won’t have a team competing on the Canadian stage for senior hockey’s Allan Cup in 2018 as the Clarenville Ford Caribous have decided to sit out this year’s national tournament.
Newfoundland’s berth in the Atlantic region qualifiers originally belonged to the reigning Herder senior champion Harbour Grace CeeBee Stars, but they passed on the opportunity, leaving the ’Bous next in line to represent the province.
However, after receiving an email from Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador, Clarenville general manager Ivan Hapgood said the Caribous have also decided to sit out the national tournament this year in lieu of participating in a more extensive Central West Senior Hockey League (CWSHL) and Herder playoff schedule.
“They (Hockey NL) came and asked and we obliged,” said Hapgood.
The CWSHL’s Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts won the 2017 Allan Cup in Bouctouche, N.B.
For the Caribous to go to the 2018 Allan Cup, Hapgood said they would have to travel to Bouctouche at the end of January to qualify, and if successful, then travel to the Allan Cup tourney in Rosedale, Sask., in April after the Herder playdowns.
He says they wouldn’t want a situation like last season, in which they completed the CWSHL finals against the Cataracts one night, only to have to begin the Herder finals the next night in Harbour Grace.
Without Allan Cup time restraints leading to a rush to finish the local season, the league would have more wiggle room to play a full playoff schedule — including four-out-of-seven series for all semifinal and final series, he added.
Hapgood called last year’s two-out-of-three series a “financial disaster” for all teams involved.
“It looks appealing right now to somebody like me who’s got to worry about paying the bills besides playing hockey,” he said.
While the suggestion to forgo Allan Cup competition came from Hockey NL, Hapgood said the move makes sense for a league trying to save money.
“You’ve got to look at it from a business side of it, too,” he said. “Playoffs brings out fans. So, we’re hoping that longer playoffs are going to bring out more sustainability for the league in the long run.”
Hapgood said the Caribous are already saving about $60-70,000 annually by eliminating import skaters and reducing player salaries this year. The cost of going to the Allan Cup, along with a trip to the Atlantic qualifiers, would be about the same amount.
“If we’re going to save that on one hand and turn around and spend it by going to Allan Cup, maybe we need to do a trial run on something else,” he said. So, 9the Hockey NL request) was actually good timing.”