CLARENVILLE, NL — Newfoundland and Labrador won’t have a team competing on the national stage for senior hockey’s Allan Cup in 2018, as the Clarenville Ford Caribous have decided to sit out this year’s tournament.
While the berth in the Atlantic region qualifiers originally belonged to the reigning Herder champions HGOE CeeBee Stars, they passed on the opportunity and the ‘Bous were next in line to represent the province.
However, after an email from Hockey NL, Clarenville general manager Ivan Hapgood told the Packet the team has 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 came and asked and we obliged,” said Hapgood.
To go to the Allan Cup, Hapgood says they would have to travel to Bouctouche, New Brunswick at the end of January to qualify, and if successful, also travel to the actual tournament after the Herder was played.
He says they wouldn’t want a situation like last season, in which they completed the CWSHL finals against the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts one night, only to have to begin the Herder finals the next night in Harbour Grace.
Without Allan Cup time restraints to finish the season, the league would have more wiggle room to play a full postseason — including four-out-of-seven series for all semi-finals and final series, he adds. He calls a 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,” said Hapgood.
While Hockey NL presented the idea to the Caribous, Hapgood agrees the move makes sense for a league that is trying to save money.
“You’ve got to look at it from a business side of it too … 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 says the team is 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. So, it was actually good timing.”