This afternoon I was delighted to have an hour long phone call with one of the Cornwall River Kings most popular players. Only thing is, he’s not a River King anymore. You see, a couple of weeks ago Nicolas Corbeil demanded to be traded from the team he called home for the past three years.
It wasn’t because of his teammates.
It wasn’t because of the fans or the city of Cornwall.
No, it was because he was sick of the lies. The drama. Never getting a straight answer to his face. He saw the ship sinking and well, bailed himself out before it was too late. “From the beginning it felt like ownership this year never really cared about us.” Corbeil said with an exhausted sigh. “It was always a show. Every move was calculated and wasn’t in the best interest of the team.”
Corbeil was one of the very few players who stuck it out for the past three seasons amidst the troubles with ownership year in and year out. “I really liked it there,” he says with ease. “The fans are some of the best in the league, I love them! Cornwall is a definite hockey town but enough was enough.”
When the team was on the verge of folding last year, Corbeil stuck it out on the words from Rick Lalonde that things were going to turn around. “You know, those guys (ownership), their jobs were tough. How do you tell a guy like Francis Lessard that you’re not going to get paid?” he says with a chuckle. “But they were always honest when it came to the truth.”
“They came and told us straight to our face.”
One person that Corbeil really appreciates is Mitch Gagne. “Mitch is 100% in it for the love of the game.” He says. “He’s not in it for the money or has a hidden agenda. He really did a lot for me and I really thank him.”
Corbeil also holds the upmost respect for Rick Lalonde, Al Wagar, and Olivier Fillion. “Without those three guys, this team wouldn’t have lasted until now. They were the only ones who cared and I want to thank them so much.”
The drama of the team took its toll on Corbeil. He was finding it hard to enjoy coming to the rink and lace them up. It wasn’t because of the guys in the locker room. “I have a bunch of friends on the Kings; I had no problems with the guys.” No, it was sickening feeling of walking into the arena and asking question after question about whether or not he would be paid that night. “I told myself, if either came to the point where I no longer enjoyed coming to the rink, it was time to move on.” He wasn’t ready to pack it up and call it a career just yet. His love for the game still thrived.
So he got sent to Thetford Mines and the Isothermic.
“I like it here, it’s a great fit for me.” Corbeil says with a smile in his voice. “I found the joy in playing hockey again.”
Nicolas Corbeil might be in a different uniform now. However, what he did on the ice for this city will always be remembered. One of our best Kings that played with his heart night in and night out and hell, sometimes without a pay cheque. Onwards and upwards Corbs; win that championship with Thetford.