Top News

ROBIN SHORT: Edge coaching move latest NBL head-scratcher

There’s little or no doubt Doug Plumb wishes to be near his ailing father, who suffers from Parkinson’s Disease.

And I’m certain the now ex-coach of the St. John’s Edge has a crack at a pretty good job in sports back home in Vancouver.

But I also know this: I can’t recall a coach of a pro team walking away with two games left in the regular season, and playoffs just around the corner.

Robbie Ftorek was fired by the playoff-bound New Jersey Devils with nine games remaining in the 2000 NHL regular season. I’m not familiar with anyone voluntarily packing it in, however, at that juncture of a pro campaign.

The Plumb resignation is the latest move in the seemingly never-ending comings and goings with the St. John’s Edge.

In the past month, the Edge lost two players — Diego Kapelan and Obinna Oleka — to teams in Mexico, and Tra-Deon Hollins was sent packing this week after he’d just signed.

That’s all only in the past few weeks.

The Edge currently has its complement of 12 players on the roster, but that includes the injured Carl English. English may or may not play again this season after surgery on his thumb, but if he’s done for the playoffs, that means another player could be St. John’s-bound.

Since the start of the season, 25 players have appeared in at least one game for the Edge. Of the 10 players dressed for St. John’s in the season-opener, four remain.

As I was reminded on Twitter the other day, such is the nature of the NBL Canada, and its revolving door of players.

Fair enough, but this business of athletes up and leaving mid-season to sign with another team in another country is a new one on me.

We never even saw that in the old semi-pro, and certainly dysfunctional, Newfoundland Senior Hockey League, where you thought you’d seen everything.

It’s precisely why I find it hard to take the National Basketball League of Canada seriously.

The calibre of play in the circuit is very good, and the Edge, as an organization, offers a decent night’s entertainment.

But it’s the off-court stuff that makes it a bit of a gong show.

Nobody asked me, but ..

Those close to the league privately question the NBL Canada’s long-term viability. Many teams draw anywhere from 1,000-1,500 per game. The London Lightning, long the league’s model franchise, doesn’t even report its attendance anymore. St. John’s now appears to be the franchise that’s a success at the turnstiles … Edge owner Irwin Simon was in town last week watching his team play the Saint John Riptide. Not sure if there’s a correlation to Simon’s visit and Doug Plumb’s decision Monday to pull the plug, but the optics would suggest so. Word out of Sydney, N.S. is Simon is interested in buying Centre 200, the rink that’s at least 32-years-old and home to Quebec junior hockey’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, a team Simon recently purchased. Of course, hockey is what Simon was originally interested in when he came to St. John’s. But when it became evident no team was available (not in the AHL, nor the QMJHL), basketball offered a backup plan. Simon sings the praises of St. John’s, saying more than once he feels “home” in the city. But he’s from Glace Bay on Cape Breton island, and now that he has a hockey team in his back yard, and possibly the rink in which they play, it would only make sense the Cape Breton Highlanders NBL Canada team would be his next purchase (assuming the league is still around). And where does that leave the Edge? You tell me … The QMJHL Central Scouting rankings are coming out next month after the league’s pre-draft competition for players from Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Zach Dean of Mount Pearl will be ranked in the first round, and will be a top five pick. Not that it makes a difference. In the 10 years between 2005 and 2014, the following players went No. 1 overall in the QMJHL Draft: Alex Grant, Yann Sauve, Simon Despres, Brandon Gormley, Olivier Archambault, Dillon Fournier, Nathan MacKinnon, Daniel Audette, Nicolas Roy and Luke Green. Between them all, they’ve combined for 762 NHL games. Of that number, MacKinnon’s appeared in 460 and Despres in 222 … There’s always been a certain degree of eyebrow-raising when it comes to the National Basketball League of Canada. Up until a year ago, when one dialed the league’s telephone number listed (at the time) on its website, the call would be answered by a woman in Vito Frijia’s company office. Which kind of gave one the impression the London Lightning owner ran the show. The optics were terrible … Think the St. John’s Edge could use Charles Hinkle now? … I was bang on, just a bit off on my timing. At the 2018 Olympic Curling Trials 15 months ago, I predicted the jig was up for Ryan Fry and his spot on Brad Jacobs’s insufferable Northern Ontario curling team. It happened this week when Jacobs announced Marc Kennedy, he of the Kevin Martin and Kevin Koe teams, was coming on board to replace Fry … I mean, come on. Who’s going to sit down and watching eight or 10 ends, or whatever it is, of mixed curling? …

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

Recent Stories