CORNER BROOK Steve North has been limited to just eight games this season because of a bum shoulder but he‚Äôs not ready to say his days with the Royals are done.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs just sore and there‚Äôs no strength to it so I really can‚Äôt play,‚ÄĚ‚ÄąNorth said. ‚ÄúWhen I‚Äôm out there I feel like a liability and you can‚Äôt really do what you normally do.‚ÄĚ
North has been the captain of the Western Royals of the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League for the past couple of seasons, but with so much uncertainty about his return the franchise has named import defenceman Nathan Saunders the new captain.
North said he discussed his captaincy with Royals president Ross Coates. North didn‚Äôt think it was best for the team to have him remain the captain when he wasn‚Äôt going to be playing and coming to the rink every now and then while he figures out what he finds out from the doctors.
He is just going to play it by ear and hope for the best because he‚Äôs not willing to throw it all down just yet.
‚ÄúWaiting to see a surgeon again so I don‚Äôt know what they‚Äôre going to tell me or say,‚ÄĚ he said.
North has been one of the most consistent performers for the Royals for the past decade. He played hard every shift and punished his body game after game in the quest for a championship, which he accomplished on one occasion back in 2002 when the Royals won its last Herder Memorial Trophy.
He misses being able to play the game at a high level because it‚Äôs something that has been a huge part of his life. But, he has a life outside of hockey with a job and a family to take care of so he is adjusting nicely given his love for the game.
‚ÄúI got lots of stuff going on in my life now so it‚Äôs not like I didn‚Äôt have any issues filling time,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI get to spend more time around the house with the kids.‚ÄĚ
Spending more time with five-year-old twin daughters Avery and Lilly and 16-month-old son Landon is something he treasures so he will be just fine while he waits.
Interesting enough, what has been a comfort to him though is knowing the Royals have been playing some great hockey in his absence.
‚ÄúThe boys are playing well. Two big wins last weekend. That‚Äôs great to see,‚ÄĚ‚Äąhe said.
North believes the Royals have a team built for a run at a championship with depth and a concentration on defence proving to be keys to climbing the standings.
‚ÄúI think from being around at the beginning of the year it‚Äôs just a matter of finding the consistency and bringing the A effort every single night,‚ÄĚ‚Äąhe said. ‚ÄúThe issue was just some nights we would show up and others we wouldn‚Äôt, and it seems like obviously last weekend they showed up in both games so that was great to see.‚ÄĚ
While he figures there were a number of players with the leadership ability within the ranks to wear the C, North gave a thumbs-up to the big red head taking over the role.
‚ÄúSaunders is a good guy for it,‚ÄĚ‚Äąhe said. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs pretty vocal when he needs to be and he‚Äôs a leader on the ice,‚ÄĚ he said.
The Royals will head to Harbour Grace this weekend for a two-game series against the defending champion Eastlink CeeBee Stars fresh off a sweep of the league-leading Cataracts.