Nicolas Corbeil: His reasoning behind the trade

250x250-17-Nicolas_CorbeilThis 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.”

(Photo: Jason Setnyk)
(Photo: Jason Setnyk)

“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.

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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.

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The NHL is back and it’s just not the same

bryzThe NHL is back for yet another season. Yet here I am, unmoved and slightly not as interested as I was in years past.

To say that the National Hockey League has changed since the days when I was younger would be a huge understatement. The face of everything in the sport has changed 100% completely. From teams and players to broadcasting and television hosts; it’s just not the same. You could attribute it to just growing up and being nostalgic about the past but deep down I think it’s simply much more than that.

In a nostalgic sense, I’m lost without Saturday night viewings of Hockey Night in Canada ringing out from the television screen. I realize it’s still going and I’m anxious to see what it’s going to look like but it hasn’t been the same since TSN bought the rights to its historic theme song. Gone are the days of hearing the Coach’s Corner theme song, listening to Don Cherry and Ron McLean banter back and forth during the first intermission break and people actually stopping what they’re doing to listen to Cherry speak (no joke, my family used to drop what they were doing.). Or during the second intermission, sitting through Satellite Hotstove and not Hotstove Tonight itching to get the third period started.

Afternoon games were unheard of on television. It was a privilege to be able to stay up and watch your favourite team on a school night.

The age of the enforcer is dying out. It’s just going to be a chapter in a hockey history book someday. When guys like Mike Milbury, who beat up a fan in the stands with his own shoe, is calling for the end of fighting in the sport you know times have changed. While I could sit here and list all the points as to why fighting and enforcing needs to stay in the game, there’s no point. With the advancement of how concussions and mental health have affected the competitive athlete, it’s a no brainer to end it when your own health is on the line. However, all these same things could happen with a body check, or a trip, or a slash, or even a hard face wash. Taking fighting out isn’t going to stop that.

(Photo: Mark Blinch/Canadian Press)
(Photo: Mark Blinch/Canadian Press)

Everything has a price tag or an endorsement on it. I’m not against making money obviously, but everything just seems so over the top and extravagant. I miss the days of walking into an arena, smelling the fresh PLAIN ice that would just feature the faceoff circles, the goaltenders crease, two blue lines and a red line. Do we really need ref cams? It’s a cool feature but we’re getting a little overboard here.

There’s no loyalty with players anymore. Yes they sign 8 year deals but how many of them actually stick them out? They go where the coin is. You can’t blame them either; that’s all on the owner’s and GM’s but how does one grow attached to a player now? On the same note, there’s a lot of lazy players in the game today. Just want to skate by and grab their cheque. Like, I said, maybe it’s because I’m much older now and see the world differently but I can’t be the only one feeling this way.

That’s why I enjoy the minors and other professional leagues. These guys feel the need to prove something to their fans night in and night out just to keep their jobs. In reality, that’s exactly what it is. Professional hockey is their full time job. With the exception of the NHL and AHL, nobody is getting paid huge wads.

I’m starting to sound like I’m bitter about everything, but I’m not. Hell, if I was offered a $50 million dollar, 8 year contract I’d take it in a heartbeat. Who wouldn’t? But that’s just one area that proves how much the game has changed.

Maybe the spark of the NHL will come back and flicker in my eyes a few more weeks into the season. Maybe it won’t. Things change and evolve over time, that’s just life. Even though it’s changed so much since the days of my youth there’s one thing I can be grateful for.

It gave me the sport I love.

Disclaimer: I realize that there are millions of people around the world who are super excited for this season and I couldn’t be happier! This is just some thoughts coming from someone who has followed the game for over 20 years now.

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