A competitive Cornwall River Kings? They just may surprise you

It’s felt like 40 degrees for the past couple weeks and doesn’t seem to stop for the foreseeable future. It’s time to start thinking winter and with winter comes hockey! In my temp neck of the woods of Cornwall, Ontario, that means it’s time the Cornwall River Kings to come gliding out onto the ice of the Ed Lumley Arena.

I’m sure you’re wondering why I haven’t written about them lately. I know most of you turned a blind eye to some of my articles when I was elaborating on issues and moves. (Hey, I spoke the truth and I was right.) However, it’s time to speak up once again.

Why haven’t I been writing about them?

Because they’re doing things right.

And it’s now, more then ever, that we need to praise them for it.

Now I can only talk about roster moves because I’ve been blocked from seeing things on facebook but for the first time in several seasons and maybe since the inaugural season, the River Kings are going to ice a competitive team. Overall, they’ve traded better, they’ve acquired better, they’ve drafted better and they’ve signed better. The brass has gone after guys with exceeding reputations. Likely the work of Bob Desjardins that I hope Rick Lalonde is exemplifying his valuable input.

Let’s take a look at some of the newcomers that are going to grace the bench of the very quite possible Big Red Machine of the Cornwall River Kings.

MARTIN LARIVIERE

Back in the beginning of June, the River Kings sent Maxime Vachon to the Thetford Assurancia in exchange for tough guy Martin Lariviere. Lariviere has spent his entire hockey career in Quebec having his Jr. A days with the Lachine Maroons and bouncing the around the old crazy Quebec senior league and the LNAH. It will be different to not show up to the arena in Thetford this season as spent the past 8 years with the squad.  However, it was here where he fine tuned his reputation as a pest and an agitator. While not a big lad, 5’9 on skates can be just as intimidating as 6’4. After leading the team in PIMs with 210 last season, you can look for the big man from Verdun to put up just as much.

 

OLIVIER CROTEAU AND JEREMY VIGNEAULT-BELANGER

QMJHL (LHJMQ) hockey profile photo on Prince Edward Island Rocket Olivier Croteau December 16, 2011 at the Colisee Pepsi in Quebec city.
Croteau

In the middle of June, the Kings acquired Croteau and Vigneault-Belanger from the Jonquiere Marquis for a draft pick. Heck of a deal I might add.

Croteau has a couple of really decent Jr. A seasons combined with experience from not only teams in the QMJHL (Gatineau Olympiques and PEI Rocket) but with Team Canada U-17 World Championships as well. At 6’2 and boasting a left handed shot that is much needed on the depth chart, Croteau will be a nice welcome to the younger guys on the squad and on the ice.

 

 

1160014-prolongation-jonquierois-jeremy-vigneault-belanger
Photo: Mariane L. Gelais

Another young kid that has QMJHL experience is Vigneault-Belanger. A season with the Quebec Ramparts was enough to cross over into the LNAH territory. Two years ago he put up 58 points in 38 games with St. Georges. Last year while bouncing between St. Georges and Jonquière, Vigeanaut-Belanger was almost a point a game player with 35 in 38 games. Given the right players to play with him, this kid could turn out to be something.

 

LOU DICKENSON

When Dickenson retired from pro hockey earlier this off-season I shook my head when the River Kings drafted him. (I still forget that the LNAH is semi-pro!) I knew how great of a player he is and was equally excited and disappointed at his retirement. After I finally realized my mistake, I jumped for joy and wondered how the hell the Kings pulled this off.

ag_HLh5lDickenson, who you may remember from CBC’s Making the Cut back in the early 2000s, has had a huge and lengthy pro career that has taken him almost everywhere. Well, at least all over Europe. He’s a scoring machine which is definitely needed badly for Cornwall. Even if those European clubs are sometimes a lesser calibre it is not a knock on Dickenson’s play. Those pictures out there with him in a gold helmet? That’s to showcase the top scorer on the team. Neat thing to have.

He played 13 games with Olimpija Ljubljana in Slovenia, crushed out 20 points in 13 games and took home the championship. Last season he spent it with the Dundee Stars of my beloved EIHL and went over a point a game. Another asset is he’s a big guy who can skate and can hold his own. He’s another left handed shot (told you they need them badly) and accustomed to the bigger ice. If Bob Desjardins can put a smart right winger who isn’t flashy and sticks to the little things on his line combined with the smaller ice, Dickenson will be scoring for days in this league.

 

JEFF LEGUE

Legue_Lifts_the_TrophyIf you’re a hockey fan that lives in Cornwall and don’t know who the hell Jeff Legue is then I’m sorry, you need to get out to the rink more. Legue, who has reached legendary status in Sheffield, England, had decided to retire from pro hockey and move back home to Cornwall with his family. It was obviously a no brainer that a conversation about playing for the River Kings was going to come up at some point. I’m not going to ramble about how much Legue’s hockey means to the city (and to the country of England) because like I said, if you don’t know then there’s a problem. But if you do want to brush up on his career, have a read at a sort of biography I did with him a couple yeas ago. You can check it out here:  Jeff Legue: Two Cities and the Sport of Hockey

I can truly say with all honesty that for the first time in a while it is an exciting time to be a Cornwall River Kings fan. They celebrate a milestone this season in turning 5. I hope we can look forward to different events and celebrations to mark this feat. Maybe there’s a 5th Anniversary patch in the works?  Who’d ever thought we’d last this long? Who knows.

What I do know is it’s only 3 more months until you can start chanting “Go Kings Go.”

Is It Time For A Cornwall River Kings Mutiny?

(Photo: Robert Lefebvre)

Enough is enough.

I shook my head at the decisions that were made this off season. Between drafting a player who had already signed for another league, drafting kids from junior A who 9 times out of 10 will play pro somewhere else in the world before the LNAH, signing guys whose highest level of play is junior B, and so on.

You can’t blame the players; they’re busting their asses no matter their skill level. But this is not a developmental league. You’re playing and drafting to win. Not to develop. And I’ve said it before but you’re either a hockey guy or you’re not.

Of course I was met with the opposition of “Give them a chance! They haven’t even played a game yet!” and rightfully so.

But take a look at the standings right now.

The River Kings, at the time of writing this, are 2-12-1 with a total of 5 points. Obviously last place. The next team ahead of them, Laval, currently have 17. Recipe for disaster? You bet.

You see when teams don’t win, fans don’t show up to games. And when fans don’t show up to games, owners lose money.  Mr. Moreau said he needed between 1500-2000 fans at each home game just to break even this season. Tonight’s game (a 6-2 loss to Trois Rivieres), had not even 1000.

When Steve Moreau bought the Cornwall River Kings and became the fan base’s saviour, there was a glimmer of hope in the struggling semi pro hockey club.

That is until he kept Rick Lalonde as coach and gave him the General Manager position at the same time. Giving someone both of those positions is a HUGE red flag. Who, from a hockey mind or hockey guy stand point is going to hold him accountable for his decisions? Sure, he had his “advisors”, but he has the final say.

What’s he going to do, fire himself if things go sour?

Rick Lalonde may be a great junior coach and had a great junior career. But he is not capable of keeping a locker room at the pro level in the LNAH. Former players have expressed to me their distaste of his coaching style.  If it would be one thing if it was just one or two guys, but I could ice a full line of players.

Some trades have been made for a couple of up and comers, which is great and a positive step in the right direction. However, I feel it might be too late. Not just for the season but the team in general. I’d say to prove me wrong but how many times have I said it in the past? Something needs to be done. The hardcore fans who have stuck by this team through thick and thin don’t deserve this.

Where the hell is Steve Simoes when you need him?

(P.S. I know I shouldn’t have to say this but I know people will twist my words. This is nothing personal against Rick Lalonde, obviously. It’s strictly hockey.)

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

EDIT: Now they’re trying to back track. Come on guys, own up to it. P.S. I’m not “news” but thanks for the compliment.

You’ve got to be joking.

I’m trying really hard to like this team but every decision they make keeps turning me right off. We could talk about the coach, we could talk about signing a guy who’s highest level of hockey is Junior B, we could even talk about trying to sign a player that’s already been signed. I’ll refrain from those because they’re pretty much straight forward answers. Anybody who knows anything about hockey can come up with a smart opinion.

We could talk about the new logo.

Again, I won’t. While I don’t like it, I can get past it considering it’s not a logo that makes a club. It’s the players, wins, and championships that defines a team.

I’ve refrained from writing articles on each subject because quite frankly, I’m sick of being pessimistic about everything. However, every decision being made is keeping me that way.

Just when I think the team is starting to turn around, like being smart about giving Brennan Barker the captaincy this season, something stalls it.

This time is the Cornwall River Kings sad attempt at merchandise.

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What, in the hockey god’s name is this?!?

I get it. The team is strapped for cash so you’re trying to drum up some money by making merchandise. That’s a smart move as it’s worked out for many a team before. But out of the thousands upon thousands of hockey slogans that are out there, you mean to tell me that “HIT ‘EM IN THE WEINER!” is the best you came up with?!

It doesn’t even make sense! (Even for LNAH standards.) Come on, give your head a shake. How are you supposed to even take this team seriously with the words “hit them in the weiner”? You want that to be the first piece of merchandise people in the hockey world will see? Anybody who knows even the slightest bit of marketing knows this is stupid. (Obviously there isn’t because we wouldn’t have had another logo change.)

The response on social media has been quite frankly, utter digust and confusion. The team is supposed to shine a new era and get rid of the shortcomings of years past.

Look, it’s not hard.

Cornwall Colts – “Kick ICE Hockey!”
Ottawa 67s – “Hockey With Bite!”
St. John’s IceCaps – “We Stand Together.”
Coventry Blaze – “Bleed Blue.”
Pittsburgh Penguins – “It’s A Great Day For Hockey!”

And then there’s….

Cornwall River Kings – “Hit ‘Em In The Weiner!”

I rest my case.

By the way. If you can’t take criticism; get out of the hockey rink.

Editorial: Cornwall River Kings 2015 LNAH Draft

lnahHere’s a short editorial style post on Cornwall’s contribution to the 2015 LNAH draft.

Or excuse me, LACK of contribution.

I don’t get it.

I don’t claim to know all the ins and outs of drafting players to a hockey team.

I do know that drafting junior triple A players to a league that’s built on former professionals on the ends of their career is a dumb move. How do you expect to compete with other clubs who employ players that ooze experience and have the right skill level necessary to fight for a championship?

Of course, the draft only secures the rights of the players and doesn’t necessarily mean they will play for that team but there are oodles of professional players in the ECHL, EIHL, DEL, Swiss and Austrian leagues that could have been drafted that would make a much bigger impact then kids from junior in St. Jerome, Quebec. How do you not see that?

This isn’t a developmental league. Scouts aren’t coming out in droves to see the next junior hot shot unless they want to see him get his head punched in. The past two drafts have been wasted on junior players that barely show up. Expand your demographic and look past the kids for a change.

I hear an argument of catering to the locals. That’s all fine and dandy but local players aren’t going to put people in the stands. You know what will?

Winning.(And because it’s the LNAH, fights and tough guys will too. Don’t kid yourself, this league isn’t changing it’s rules.)

Everyone loves a winning hockey team and the only way to do that is to be smart with the players you draft and smart with the players you sign.

So far, drafting hasn’t been too smart.

Scott Champagne is a local boy who hasn’t played in North America since 2008 and only played 12 games last year between Denmark and Germany. Cornwall has already tried to sign him in the past but due to budget reasons, it never materialized. Why waste that pick on him?

Cornwall traded a pick to Trois Rivieres in return for Erick Lizon. Hate to break it to you but Lizon just signed a contract with the Nottingham Panthers two weeks ago. Another pick wasted. It’s not hard to do some research! Here’s your proof:

You can disagree with me, that’s perfectly okay. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

But it’s frustrating to cheer for a team who doesn’t know how to compete for a championship in the league they’re in or hell, what the logo is going to be year in and year out.

Captain Heart: Steve Simoes

250x250-Steve_SimoesAs another LNAH season wraps up for the Cornwall River Kings, everyone can take a step back from all the dramatics that unfolded this year and take a breath of relaxation. The ups and downs of the craziness took its toll on the mighty Lion King that blazes the crest on the white, red and blue sweaters. From fans, players, and those close to the team itself, the frustration was hard. The hardest hit could have possibly been the captain, Steve Simoes.

For the past three years, Simoes has dedicated everything he’s got to supporting professional hockey in Cornwall. He knows it can strive with the right people. From leading the team onto the ice night in and night out, to becoming a bench boss while nursing an injured shoulder the second year, he lived and breathed the game of hockey.

Standing at a solid 6’2, the leftie started off with a stint of 55 games over two years in Major Junior. Split between the Beauport Harfangs and the Quebec Remparts. Despite the short tenure, valuable lessons were learned in Beaufort under head coach Alain Vingeault and then with Atlanta/Calgary Flames legend Guy Chouinard.

I suppose playing with Simon Gagne didn’t hurt either.

After collecting 193 penalty minutes down in Junior A with the Antigonish Bulldogs, Simoes enrolled at the University of Ottawa and managed to become a point a game player. Now here’s where the fun starts. It’s time to turn professional.

The modern version of the Central Hockey League was founded in 1992 by Ray Miron. If that name sounds familiar to you it’s because he was born and raised in Cornwall. Miron spent some time as an executive for the Toronto Maple Leafs and was General Manager for the Colorado Rockies. Before his foray into professional hockey, Miron managed the Cornwall Community Arena for 10 years while coaching and managing several Cornwall teams.

The CHL started with six teams all located in the southern United States. As other leagues began folding, Miron welcomed them into the mix. Just like any start up league, things could get a little bit feisty. In order to sell the game to southern fans, fighting became an integral part of the play.

Laredo, Texas, a city of close to 240,000 people lies on the on the border of Texas and Mexico. Not exactly what you would call a hockey hot bed but the league had saw success in Southern Texas before. It was no brainer when Laredo was awarded its first professional franchise.

(They really loved him in Laredo.)
(They really loved him in Laredo.)

Simoes picked up his first professional contract during the second season of the Laredo Bucks franchise. What a time to join them too. Simoes played an integral part of that important season having 34 points in 58 games and coming second in terms of penalty minutes with 116. The fans of Laredo loved the gritty style of hockey and would come close to selling out almost every night, especially in the playoffs. The arena held 8,000 and a little more than 6,500 people would show up. Oh, and I forgot. Simoes hoisted the Ray Miron President’s Cup as the Laredo Bucks, in just their second year of existence, won the CHL championship.

After five solid seasons in Laredo, two President’s Cups under his belt and a quick stint with the Nottingham Panthers in England, Simoes brought his play closer to home. With the self-proclaimed “toughest league in the world”, Simoes would leave his mark on an unsuspecting town desperate for hockey.

 

(Photo: Alison Papineau)
(Photo: Alison Papineau)

Simoes captained the Cornwall River Kings since its existence. During his tenure, he’s taken on many roles that most captains or hell, even players wouldn’t do. A shoulder injury didn’t stop him from joining the coaching staff in the River Kings sophomore year and when money went the way of the do-do bird, he rallied the troops and convinced them to play through the second half of the season without a dime to their name. Let’s not forget about that fateful night when Dannick Lessard was shot outside a Quebec nightclub; Simoes went around and collected donations for him.

He always took time out for the fans and was always straight up honest about what was going on behind the scenes during this past rollercoaster of a season. He let us know how both he and the players felt in a long tirade of a blog post. While ownership was up in the air and talk of the team being sold and moved out of town arose Simoes night in and night out gave the fans hope. Hell, have you ever seen a captain take the mic at the beginning of the game and apologize for having a horrible team? Well, that happened.

 

(Photo: Alison Papineau)
(Photo: Alison Papineau)

Out of the few games I went to this year, Simoes was the only guy on the ice that you could tell played with his heart on his sleeve. He wasn’t afraid to get dirty, deliver checks, or get into a fight or two to help out the crest on the front on his jersey. He was never lazy and you could tell he worked hard just by some of the pictures that floated through social media on game night. If we had more players like him on our roster, Cornwall would be unstoppable.

Steve Simoes is just as passionate about hockey as you and I. I could go on to list the things that we have all seen or heard him do. Nothing but a class act in and out, the River Kings are going to miss his presence tremendously; not only on the ice, but in the locker room as well.

Here is to a great career Simmer; thanks for the memories.

Fighting and the future of the LNAH

Fraser McLaren after a nasty scrap.
Fraser McLaren after a nasty scrap.

With the demise of the goon era already a thing of the past and with current leagues cutting down majorly on fighting, one is left to wonder where do these guys turn. They’re clearly not ready to retire yet and can still useful as an agitator. However, if the 4th liner next to you has better skills with the puck then you can kiss your cushy NHL or AHL job goodbye.

Guys are getting demoted at a steady rate. Paul “BizNasty” Bissonnette wasn’t a part of the Coyotes discussion this year. The Leafs sent Fraser McLaren and Colton Orr packing. After making his way to the NHL the hard way, Rich Clune thought he finally found a steady job with the Nashville Predators. He played one game this year and then headed down to play with Milwaukee. Kevin Westgarth has a Stanley Cup to his name and not one NHL or AHL wanted him. He ended up across the pond with the Belfast Giants.

The culture of the National Hockey League is changing dramatically and anyone can see that. Every team wants to have four sharp, fast, skilled lines now instead of the latter lines filling up with grinders, enforcers, and pests. They need to do more than just fight.

There are a lot of these players around the world that are starting to find themselves out of jobs. Hell, there are a few guys in Major Junior who might not have a job playing pro hockey after their junior career is done. I don’t think fighting will be banned out right but there’s going to come a point where suspensions are going to get heftier and ridiculous in order to deter the player from fighting or players are going to start getting banned from leagues. So where do these guys go is the million dollar question.

There’s only one place.

The LNAH.

Sean McMorrow throws a big right hand.
Sean McMorrow throws a big right hand. (Photo: Sandra Charette http://www.sandracharette.com)

If you are not familiar with the LNAH through my writing yet, I’ll bring you up to speed. With seven teams in Quebec and one in Ontario at the moment, the LNAH is a league where basically anything goes. The “show” is what draws fans from around the world to it. Fighting is king. Staged or not, fighting is promoted in this league. It’s also the league that has those big brawls you may have seen on SportsCentre time and time again.

What people don’t expect when they actually watch a game is that the hockey is decent. The league is filled with former first round draft picks (Cornwall’s Sasha Pokulok went 14th overall to Washington in 2005, two picks later the Atlanta Thrashers picked up long time LNAHer Alex Bourret.), former AHL and ECHLers. It’s a big mix.

The Leafs took Nic Corbeil in the 3rd round of the 2001 draft.
The Leafs took Nic Corbeil in the 3rd round of the 2001 draft.

The LNAH has one thing going for them and that is they will never outlaw fighting. When the time comes that it’s no longer welcome in the NHL, the LNAH will welcome all of the out of work enforcers with open arms. Not even just the enforcers. Guys who play dirty and have one or two scraps a year will come over too.

If the LNAH can market it right, it’s going to become a gold mine. Fans will have nowhere to go but the LNAH if they want to see a fight. It will become popular as hell and teams will pop up all other the place. I could see teams in the Maritimes and North Eastern U.S. jumping into the fold.

Now here’s one thing that I think the current brass of the LNAH won’t like.

To make this sustainable the brawls and sideshow antics have to go or at least get toned down a bit. The LNAH is looked down upon because of this in every other league. I’ve heard from more than one player that they think the league should be banned in its format. Another called it a joke. There are also TONS of fans that feel this way believe it or not.

The other thing that needs to be changed is the “must have played junior in Quebec (and for Cornwall, Ontario)”. The enforcers of the league are on the verge of retirement. You’re going to need somebody to replace them be it straight from Major Junior or buddy in Kazakhstan that likes to throw down. These players are what makes the league. It would be a shame to not let others in eventually. If the league wants to last, this rule needs to go with or without the fighting.

There’s a few other minor rules and things that the LNAH needs to change but they’d be able to do that on the fly year by year.

Take a step back and think about it for a minute. Picture the next 5-10 years.

No more fights in the NHL on TV to look forward to on Saturday nights. Can’t see a beauty tilt between players on the verge of making it live in the AHL. Forget about trying to look for one on a Major Junior level. But we can go down to the arena in our mid-size communities and catch 4 or 5 a game. How about that.

You can’t deny that every single hockey fan on the planet likes a good hockey scrap. Especially live. There’s nothing more exciting than seeing your team get pumped up with momentum after one.

Remember these words.

LNAH. Gold mine.

Hey, LNAH? We need to talk

It’s been almost a week since the events of last weekend’s warm up brawl in Laval between the Predateurs and St. Georges. Leaving a few players injured, a team out of commission and three top brass suspended for two full years, it’s time for the league to take a step back and take a look at themselves in the mirror.

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Some people might not like what I have to say in this piece and quite frankly, I don’t care. The fact remains that while this league might still be the so called “toughest” in the world, when things like last weekend’s events keep happening, the world views the league as a joke.

One big joke.

Pre-meditated brawls are a mockery to the sport. It’s not the Broadstreet Bullies of the 70’s or the Quebec Senior Pro league of the 00’s anymore. The culture of hockey has changed dramatically concerning player safety and with the advent of social media, you can’t get away with things as easily as you could 10 years ago. It’s time to let go of some of the sideshow antics that put a black eye on the league. I’m serious.

This league has the potential to be very viable, thrive and become a goldmine. As leagues around the world are clamping down on fighting, the LNAH is embracing it with open arms and becoming even more of a niche then it has been. Good quality fights (whether staged or not) are always a draw to fans. They can deny that they hate staged fights to the grave but when one happens, they’re the first ones on their feet. Everyone loves a good hockey fight. There’s also not necessarily a “code”, but a show of respect between the two combatants and that to me goes a lot further then a bunch of guys on skates sucker punching each other during the warm-up.

10915155_10152503108607204_1198145366978705385_nI’m not saying do away with everything. Keep the chirping and how the players and coaches interact with the fans. That’s one of the bonuses of this league too. The atmosphere that the fans can make is second to none and I know the players appreciate that.

I’ve seen almost every major sports network show that brawl in some aspect on their respective social media sites. From the U.K. right down to Australia. The old saying of “bad publicity is good publicity” rings a bell here in the fact that now, the eyes of the world are focused on this league and what’s going to happen next.

It’s now time for the LNAH to show the world that hey, this is actually decent hockey; there are actually flashy goal scorers in this league; there are top former NHL draft picks in this league PLUS guys that can throw some haymakers. Start filming even more things than just fights.

I want this league to succeed so bad because it has so much potential. It really needs to open up the stupid rule of only allowing players who have played junior in Quebec and Ontario to play. This is the only other way to make this league a money making machine. All the enforcers that the league is banking on right now are going to retire some day and it’s going to be sooner rather than later. Wouldn’t you want a fresh group of players to draft from all frothing at the mouth for their chance? Of course you would.

1483348_1522470164687087_2630728350963894320_nI didn’t mean for this to get this long or even bounce back between ideas. I’m just frustrated with how the league is being represented. This league needs more promotion and team media presence but I realize that’s hard to do without a sizable budget. I’m also guilty of calling this league a joke because with incidents like last weekend’s and the way my hometown team was handled this season, hey, it really was a joke.

I hope some league officials end up reading this and realize some things. Maybe they’ll just laugh and shake their head at this woman from Cornwall and her crazy ideas. Either way, something is going to stick in their brain for the better.

Okay, LNAH? I’m not breaking up with you just yet.

Here’s the whole ordeal that started this article in case you haven’t seen it:

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.

God Save The Kings: The Cornwall River Kings have flatlined

(photo: Jason Setnyk)
(photo: Jason Setnyk)

I have stayed quiet for too long.

The story of the Cornwall River Kings might be coming to an end and it’s not ending with a championship.

No, in fact it’s on the brink of ending with a city full of gullible residents and hockey fans who had dreams of having their pro hockey team compete for another season. I mean, really compete.

This was going to be a brand new start for the team that has been full of dysfunction since the very beginning. That being said, all the original owners up until now had been straight forward with the fans. From Bernie Villeneuve parading outside of city hall demanding a change to the advertising deal that has a strong hold on the team from making any money to David Small always being around to answer a fan’s question with an honest answer.

Funny word that, honesty.

Unfortunately the 2014-2015 chapter of the Cornwall River Kings has been nothing more than a political pawn. Used to sway votes, it worked and allowed owner (or former owner, who the hell knows anymore) Brock Frost to be voted in to city council. When he first became the Kings’ saviour, the team was purchased for very little money. I’ve heard that the price tag is still yet to be paid for.

A hockey team is not like any ordinary business and if you know nothing about the game well, you should probably steer clear. As the summer months progressed with various functions raising money for the team, it started to become clear to me that hey, there is absolutely no money floating around this team. That’s a big mistake.

As the season progressed and the election neared it seemed like things were on an even keel and would be okay. Well the minute the election was over, that notion was long gone.

Frost immediately turned his back on the community even though he was elected to council. He sold the team under the table to the team’s trainer, Darren Madden, without any input or even telling league officials. He went to the newspapers saying that it wasn’t true and was “business as usual”. Perfect politician.

Then people close to the team begin to drop off. Players with bounced cheques began to demand trades. Players who were on the end of the trade to come here refused to play in Cornwall. Players started even refusing to play home games. Facebook pages began being deleted. A silent chorus of what was once loud and boisterous has deafened the hockey fans.

481081_10151710354827204_2010019665_nIs the team dead? Yeah, it very well could be. What happens then? Do season ticket holders get refunded? Well, good luck trying to get money of a team that’s pretty much bankrupt aka zero moolah. If you don’t have enough money to ice a starting lineup, that’s not particularly a good thing.

There are people out there though who are waiting for the call to rally around and save the team once again just for the rest of the season. If this team can make to the end, there might be a new lease on life.

The advertising deal that the Cornwall Colts have with the city is up at the end of the season. It’s then up for re-negotiation and then the Kings could easily push for their rights, get them, and that would garner them an unbelievable back bone into next year. If they don’t get them, well pack it up and fold.

There is a lot more specifics that I’m sure will come out in the following days. Will there be games this weekend? Who knows? Hell, as a player, I wouldn’t want to play in this mess.

A few of us saw this coming and tried to warn people. No, we were fallen on deaf ears and hell, I even got Facebook messages riddled with hate streamed at me. All I’m going to say is this.

We told you so.

WHO OWNS THE CORNWALL RIVER KINGS

10360550_745840888785325_1496473446819287182_nUpdate: It’s true. Pending league approval, Darren Madden, the team’s trainer, will own the team.

The people want to know!

It’s never a dull moment in the life of the Cornwall River Kings. Hundreds, if not thousands of rumors are swirled around social media this week concerning the livelihood of the team. The biggest question is who actually owns the team?

Newly elected city counselor Brock Frost came in last spring and was perceived as our all mighty saviour who bought the team and kept it in Cornwall.

Do you know how much money it takes to run a hockey team? A lot. And I mean, A LOT. Even in this Quebec senior semi-pro bush league.

There’s a lot of things one has to take care of to keep your team happy. Like brand new equipment. The players for your team should not be digging into their basement to use the stick they played with when they were in junior.

But importantly, you need to keep your players HAPPY. And what keeps the players happy? Well, money is a great start. Why are players not fighting? Especially at home? Here’s a little Cornwall River Kings joke I heard. What’s small and bounces? No, it’s not a hockey puck.

Anyway, the rumor mill has put forth that trainer Darren Madden is to add his name to the list of ever growing owners of this ill-fated Cornwall River Kings club. Another person who is going to cut corners to try and keep money flowing.

You can’t own a hockey club without a sizable investment and expect to be generating thousands of dollars in revenue off of cheaply made merchandise and programs. You can’t bank on the money from that, that’s crazy! This is still a fairly new club; you need to understand that you probably won’t make money or hell, break even for maybe five years!

You need somebody with BUSINESS SENSE that will actually understand that.

10712827_10152307033661227_6110577413949859511_n
Madden with Frost. (Photo: Jason Setnyk)

This team needs people who know what the business of hockey entails to lead it. They don’t necessarily have to have owned a team before but at least someone thoroughly who knows what goes on behind the scenes.

The owner (preferably with deep pockets), should be able to sit back and let people run it. Only be involved in major decisions. Have faith in the people you appoint to the front office, media, merchandising, ticket sales. Not rule with an iron fist.

One last note: when our video/photography team (who is beloved league wide and knows the ins and outs of it) quits because of the rumors of who might take over, you’ve got a problem.

I can’t believe I had to write something like this. What a gongshow.

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