— Star file photo
With the assumption they’ll be calling Corner Brook home this upcoming season, the Royals inked a big-name forward in senior hockey circles this week.
Chris Hulit is this season’s first official import signing by the franchise, team president Ross Coates confirmed on Tuesday. The team has four import cards, plus one for a goalie.
“Scoring ... firepower that we never had last year,” said Coates on what Hulit is expected to bring to the club. “He brings a lot of offence.”
The six-foot-one, 190-pound winger played just two seasons of senior hockey in this province previously — with the Clarenville Caribous and Conception Bay North CeeBee Stars — winning the Herder on both occasions. He also played in the Allan Cup twice and was named to the tournament’s all-star team in 2013.
Hulit, 29, played in the 2005 Memorial Cup tournament and, from 2006-11, captained St. Francis Xavier University in Atlantic University Sport, putting up 120 points (60G-60A) in 116 regular season games.
“I’ve always felt (the Royals) have been right there,” Hulit said via telephone on Tuesday. “I’ve always played a lot of tough games against them, so I knew adding a few key, impact pieces would put them right in contention.
“I’m hoping I’ll be able to help with that.”
Hulit said his arrival really began with Royals players Stephen Simms and Bryan Gillis, who he played with at St. FX, contacting him a few weeks ago.
“They expressed interest in having me explore the idea of signing there,” he said. “I was in touch with Ross and we started the ball rolling then.”
The Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. native is now living in Toronto and plans to fly in on Fridays and depart on Monday mornings, similar to what he did in previous stints in the league.
He isn’t concerned about missing any games.
“I’ll make all of them,” he said. “For sure.”
He believes he can bring goalscoring, points, leadership and, most importantly, winning experience to the dressing room.
“I played in the league two years and won two Herders,” he said. “I’ve been there, I know what it takes to win and I think that’s important for a team that hasn’t had any real success in the playoffs in the past couple of years.”
Of course, the big news locally lately is the franchise relocating from Deer Lake back to Corner Brook. A booster group was formed with the goal of selling 1,000 season passes by Aug. 31 to seal the deal. Coates acknowledged the team was moving forward as if they’re going to be playing in Corner Brook.
That, however, doesn’t mean too much to Hulit. He never had the opportunity to play in Deer Lake, so doesn’t know what the facility or town is like, but said he does know that Corner Brook is a great spot and the Pepsi Centre is one of the best rinks in the province.
“The fan support seems to be there already,” he said. “I know it’s still getting momentum, but it’s definitely attractive to see that much interest already.”