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ROBIN SHORT: London Lightning owner tapping into Edge success

Robin Short
Robin Short - Contributed

Pardy a great signing for Growlers; is it worth the cash sending kids to prep schools (unless they're really, really good)?

The St. John’s Edge were busy with a couple of signings this week, including a former NBL Canada champion, national team member and Marquette University star, along with a seven-footer who was an NBA draft pick.

What hasn’t been making news, but is nonetheless noteworthy — not to mention head-scratching — is some juicy news gathered here at Tely Sports Central: that London Lightning owner Vito Frijia has obtained a piece of the Edge.

The Telegram has learned John Graham, the Toronto promoter who helped land the NBL Canada team and bring it to St. John’s before an unceremonious breakup with Edge owners, has sold his ownership share — believed to be only about five per cent — to Frijia, whose Lightning have won the league championship the last two years.

Neither Frijia nor Rob Sabbagh, one of the Edge owners, was in a rush to return phone calls this week.

One question I wouldn’t mind getting answered is this: how in the name of basketballs can the owner of one team be permitted to purchase a share — small as it may be — of another team, in the same league?

Seems rather odd, don’t you think?

Or maybe it’s just me.

———

Angus Barrett was saying over the phone this week that most folks don’t know how much work Dee Murphy did for the preservation of sports history in the province, particularly with his nominations for various Halls of Fame.

Now, let’s be honest here (and Dee, I think, would chuckle at this one): his resumés tended, at times, to stretch the truth a little, but there’s no denying the important role he played in submitting nominations.

There aren’t enough people out there doing as much.

Just out of curiosity, I’d love to know the total number of Hall of Famers who were nominated by Dee.

I said it about Duey Fitzgerald, who died just two weeks ago, and I’ll say it about Dee: there’ll never be another like him.

Their deaths mark the end of an era in St. John’s and Newfoundland sports.

Nobody asked me, but ...

Brilliant signing by the Newfoundland Growlers getting Adam Pardy under contract. As I mentioned back in May, Pardy, with 350 NHL games to his credit, is captain material for the ECHL club. He’ll get a lot of minutes and will probably see significant PK time … Hearing those behind the St. John’s bid are confident of landing the 2020 IIHF world women’s hockey championship. Halifax is also contending for the tournament, but that city is staging the 2019 Memorial Cup, so I’m not sure Hockey Canada will award back-to-back major events to that city. St. John’s played host to the 4 Nations Cup women’s tournament in 2010, which drew 29,218 fans over eight games during the course of a week, a record at the time. Rebecca Johnston won the tournament for Canada (3-2 over the U.S.) in overtime at Mile One Centre … This is how senior hockey figures to be shaping up in the province this winter: there will continue to be three leagues — the west, central and east coast circuits. Corner Brook, Deer Lake, Stephenville and Port aux Basques will play in the west, Grand Falls-Windsor, Gander, Clarenville and the Conception Bay CeeBees in central, with St. John’s, Southern Shore, Northeast and C.B.S. on the east coast. There will be some interlocking play. Each league will declare a champion, and the three winners will play a Memorial Cup-type format in the spring for the Herder Memorial Trophy championship. Of course, this being senior hockey, that could all change an hour from now … Couple of thoughts on senior hockey: No. 1, no one can tell me a province with this population can support three senior-calibre hockey leagues, with 12 teams. The player pool isn’t deep enough. Rather, it will be, when you get down to the third- and fourth lines, and the fourth, fifth and sixth defencemen, intermediate hockey, at best. No. 2 Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador had to do something with the Herder. Overall fan interest has bottomed out … Keeping with Hockey NL, Paul Dagg is leaving his position as technical director to become the video coach for the ECHL expansion Newfoundland Growlers … Oh, one more hockey-related item: the Newfoundland and Labrador Major Midget Hockey League will have to find a replacement for the Central team which folded this season. If not, Western will be next, with the additional travel expenses sure to kill that franchise …

I’m not hanging around major midget rinks, so I can’t say for certain, but the general refrain I’m hearing is the calibre of play in major midget hockey has dropped considerably over the years. Perhaps that could be attributed to the number of kids who leave the province today to play prep school hockey across Canada and the United States. Get me started on that. Maybe people have money to burn (I know it’s none of my business what they do with their own cash), but it seems shelling out $25,000, or $30,000 or more a year to essentially play hockey some place, only to end up in Yarmouth, Summerside or Woodstock in the Maritime Junior Hockey League (and Gander or Grand Falls-Windsor after that), is a colossal waste. There appears to be only nine or 10 players from this province on QMJHL opening-day rosters, and only one on an NCAA DI hockey scholarship (goalie Zach Rose of Paradise starts his freshman campaign at Bowling Green this season). If education is the purpose for prep school, thumbs up. If they think it’s a better way to find a junior, and later a pro career, think again. That only happens to the really good ones …

Robin Short is The Telegram’s Sports Editor. He can be reached by email robin.short@thetelegram.com

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