ST. JOHN’S — Ron Dobbin could care less about Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador’s decision to change the classification for the Central/West Junior Hockey League.
Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador and its junior council decided to change the league from Junior B classification to a Junior C setup. The decision was made during the fall meeting of Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador last weekend in Gander. The CWJHL, which operates with three teams, only had representation from the defending champion Bishop’s Falls Express at the fall meeting. There was no representation from the Stephenville Jets, the franchise Dobbin serves as general manager for, or the Port aux Basques Junior Mariners.
Dobbin wasn’t surprised by the decision and believes it was a clear indication to him that the St. John’s Junior Hockey League is dictating to the provincial body how junior hockey should be ran in the province. Dobbin believes the St. John’s league wanted to see the CWJHL removed from the picture going back to the June meetings for last season.
“St. John’s has been after this for a while and they finally got their way,” Dobbin said.
Lee, in a telephone conversation Tuesday from Florida where he is on vacation, said the decision to change the classification is based on the lack of competition provided by the CWJHL when playing against the St. John’s Junior League champions for the Veitch Memorial Trophy — symbolic of junior B hockey supremacy in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Over the past couple of years, Lee said, there have been a lot of blowouts at the Veitch and he’s worried that interest in the championship tournament has gone so far HNL might not be able to bring it back to where it was a few years ago. He doesn’t think it does anything for the tournament or the players to have a tournament that features such a high goal differential between participating clubs.
“That has nothing to do with the quality of the league itself out there. It just has to do with the quality of the league with competing for the Veitch Memorial,” Lee said.
“It doesn’t make it exciting to play for the Veitch when the outcome of the game is decided you know what I mean?,” he added.
Dobbin understands why people feel winning is important, but he believes HNL has lost sight of what he and others have been doing for the past eight years or so: providing a game of hockey for those looking for a game to keep them busy on the weekends.
“We’re providing a game of hockey for 20 kids and that’s what we do. We’re not here to build up people’s egos,” Dobbin said.
“Even if we didn’t play for an Atlantic championship or a provincial championship it doesn’t matter because we’re providing a game of hockey,” he said. “Kids are in school, kids are in college ... they would like to do something on the weekends so we provide a game of hockey for them and that’s exactly what it is.”
Dobbin, meanwhile, had no intentions of attending the fall meeting. Last season he did attend two meetings and he said he sat through a lot of “bullshit” from others around the table who wanted to discredit a league he has promoted for years and then decided, after discussing his concerns with representatives from the Port aux Basques Mariners, to stay home from the fall meetings.
Apparently, being absent could be a costly endeavour for both teams, and this ticks off Dobin to no end. Dobbin said any team absent from a meeting is slapped with a hefty fine of $400.
Fine or no fine, there will be no cheque in the mail from Dobbin.
“I’ve made it quite clear to HNL and the junior council and anybody else that when hell freezes over they’ll get their money because I got no time for that nonsense,” he said.
To make him shake his head even more, he said, HNL officials want the CWJHL league to have an executive in place for the 2013-14 season or there will be no league. Dobbin said the league has been kept alive for years with a handful of committed people and doesn’t see a need for an executive if things work well enough without one.
Such was the case last season, from Dobbin’s vantage point.
“We ran last year with no executive and we got along fine because the people who are involved in it are in it for the kids. Nobody is on an ego trip here,” he said.