First open player tryouts begin tonight 7:30 p.m. at the Hodder Memorial Centre.
Compton, who is Deer Lake’s new team manager, spent time Thursday surveying early prospects for an improved showing in the West Coast Senior Hockey League this season, just now a month away.
There were no flashbacks to their emblematic Herder Memorial Trophy heydays of 2002 and 2005, though the connections remain, none the least the Red Wings fans.
The senior hockey icescape has long since changed. With its pilot project complete, the league and its fans are now making ready for another go.
Deer Lake hockey names with big red labels, former Detroit Red Wings Darren Langdon is confirmed to return this year as head coach while Deer Lake’s own big red machine Clyde Williams, moves from general manager to club treasurer, directs new sports media traffic to a new PR guy.
“We want to get the ball rolling on the team because the excitement is in the community already," said Compton.
“We’re hoping that with Darren coaching this year, he can draw (players) out that didn't come out before … and we should be able to put a good product on the ice.”
According to Compton, there are already a number of players showing interest in the team and the Red Wings are hoping to have maybe eight or 10 practices in before the west coast circuit gets underway on Nov. 17.
A few former Corner Brook Royals are said to be vying for a spot in the Deer Lake lineup this month, but Compton wouldn’t specify on who they were.
Spectator crowds of up to 3,000 paid modest admission to see the four regional competitors slug it out through a shortened season. There was an extended playoff run and the Royals got the best of the Stephenville Jets in the championship final.
Back for a bigger bang, there has been some talk among the league executive about working toward a better balance of competition, possibly with protected local rosters and a free draft of unprotected local stars and waived players interested in playing elsewhere, according to Compton.
Compton, Langdon and the league's other coaches and team executive will need to factor that into their plans and selections to suitably fill slots on their rosters, as well as the club coffers.
“There’s a big interest from (corporate) sponsors this year," Compton said on the financial side of things. "We haven't got to phone anybody (looking for sponsorships), they're phoning us. That is a really good sign."
While west coast fans proved they were willing to support the league, it is still up to the teams to put a competitive product on the ice according to Compton.
“Fans are not going to come out to 10-1 games, you know that is not going to happen,” he said. “Parity is a big thing.”
The Western Star