The Summerside Western Capitals introduced their RBC Cup-hosting roster this week and, as expected, it was quite a bit different from the 2012-13 season-opening lineup.
Only nine players who were in the lineup back on Sept. 15 were in the lineup the last two games. Some of those opening-day players are on the Caps’ protected list and still property of the team.
The additions since have made the Caps that much better, and maybe put a little distance between them and other contending teams in Truro, Yarmouth and Amherst. If the Caps win the RBC Cup in May, all the additions this year will be worth it. But, if they don't, some may say they did not have enough local talent. Only five of the 20 players listed in the past two games are Island-born players, with Summerside's Alex Gallant and Kensington's Thomas Stavert as the only Prince County players.
Defenceman and assistant captain Matt Kelly and rookie forward Jordan Buchanan, who are both from Summerside, are also on the Caps’ final roster.
Seven of the 20 players were born in Ontario, five in Nova Scotia, two in New Brunswick and captain Scott Trask is from Newfoundland and Labrador. One can bet that Caps’ ownership and management wish they were all Island-born players, but obviously the talent pool is just not here to let that happen.
It is costing the Caps plenty to have this team, and no one can fault them for not trying to put the best product on the ice. The Caps do not have exclusive rights on Island-born players, and many are scattered throughout the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and other MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) teams.
Hosting the RBC Cup is a rare opportunity to put your best foot forward, and the Caps are doing that. They are in the business of winning, and winning turns into big dollars at the gate.
This Caps’ team is becoming the class of the league, and leaves little doubt that they will win a lot of games from here on. They will make a lot of people very happy if they win their last one!
It must be a long season that can't end soon enough for the MHL’s Metro Shipbuilders, who call the Dartmouth Sportsplex home.
They have won only four of 39 games played this season, and obviously are struggling getting players out and fans to come watch them. They only had 13 skaters in last Saturday's game in Summerside, and that should not be allowed to happen.
If I'm a paying customer at that game, I'm disappointed and a bit upset that you pay pretty good money to watch this league, and you have a little more than a two-line team to watch.
The MHL cannot let this happen, and one can only wonder why they continue to let teams play in Dartmouth and Halifax, where teams have continuously failed since the arrival of the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads.
The Shipbuilders drew only 132 fans to this past Wednesday's game against Campbellton. Their biggest crowd since Dec. 1 was 280, and Metro has averaged 215 fans per game since that time.
When you don't have the players or fans, maybe you should not have a team, or at least not in Dartmouth.
Rumours have once again surfaced about the P.E.I. Rocket being on the move, and this time to Trois-Riviéres, Que., which is in the process of building a new arena. Where there is smoke there is usually fire as the saying goes, and one cannot blame the Rocket for looking elsewhere if that is what they are doing. Rocket president Serge Savard Jr. has again denied the rumour, but like I said before, how long can the team survive with an average attendance in the 1,500-1,600 range?
In a league where the break-even point is at least 2,300, that tells me that someone is losing thousands of dollars every game. We do know that our provincial government has thrown money at the Rocket in the past, and maybe that is still the case, which may help explain why Savard Jr. has denied the rumour.
As poor as the Rocket draw in Charlottetown, the Acadie-Bathurst Titan draw even worse in Bathurst, N.B., where just over 1,000 fans attended last Wednesday's game against P.E.I.
The Rocket do have a good team this year, and should win a round or two in the playoffs, which may give the Rocket brass an indication of just how this team will draw with a decent playoff run.
I will be surprised if either the Rocket or Titan do not end up in Trois-Riviéres or elsewhere in the not too distant future.
Today (Saturday) is the day that many hockey fans have been waiting for.
The NHL kicks off season No. 88, and for Canadian fans the Hockey Night in Canada triple-header marks the 60th year that CBC has brought televised hockey into Canadian homes.
It will be interesting to see what the TV ratings will be as a lot of fans have stated they were completely fed up with the recently-concluded lockout that brought us to this day. Some have stated that they will not watch hockey any more, but my guess is that they will return in record numbers before season's end.
Teams are giving fans some big discounts on tickets and merchandise, and in fact it is cheaper to attend NHL games in some cities this weekend than what it costs to go to a Western Capitals’ game. You can buy some Florida Panther tickets for as cheap as $7 while the Detroit Red Wings are offering some of their tickets for as low as $9.
It may take a little longer to entice fans in the United States back to the arenas, but judging from news reports fans in Canadian NHL cities are pretty excited and revved up.
If you are a die-hard hockey fan, you are excited that NHL hockey is back, and most would be lying if they said they did not miss it. It is great that it is back and, like I said last week, this shortened 48-game season will be the best that we have seen in a long time.
Twenty-five years ago today on Jan. 19, 1988, the Kensington Don Clark Insurance Granites defeated the O'Leary Howard's Cove Seafood Maroons 8-4 in an Island Senior Hockey League game at Community Gardens in Kensington.
Brothers Peter and Bobby MacDonald each had a pair of goals for the Granites while David Woodside, Peter Coulson, Blaine Drummond and Blake MacKay chipped in with single goals.
Richard MacKinnon’s hat trick and Robbie Cooke's single marker looked after the Maroons’ scoring.
Have a great week!
Joe MacIntyre is a Summerside resident. His column appears every Saturday. Comments and suggestions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.