Central/West Junior Hockey League most likely finished

Chris Quigley
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CORNER BROOK  The future is far from fine for the Central/West Junior Hockey League (CWJHL).

In fact, it appears it’s completely nonexistent.

The main issue has been outstanding fines, totalling $400 apiece, owed by both the Stephenville Junior Jets and Port aux Basques Junior Mariners for missing the most recent Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador (HNL) annual general meeting in September.

“They’re being obstinate,” said Junior Jets general manager Ron Dobbin. “They’re insisting on their fines and I said right from the beginning I’m not paying them, so we basically decided to call it a day.”

According to HNL junior council chair Gerry Taylor, the decision to fine absent teams was put in place after a poorly-attended meeting a few years ago.

“They knew exactly what the rules were and chose to stay away from the meeting,” he said. “If the by-law is there, there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Dobbin claims this is the first year the by-law has been enforced, saying he has been to one meeting over the course of his eight years involved with the CWJHL. He said he’s surprised the matter became as big as it did.

“I thought they would smarten up and come to their senses and realize this is not a professional league,” Dobbin said. “What gives them the right to fine a team $400 per meeting?

“I’m disgusted,” he added. “Absolutely disgusted with their arrogance.”

During September’s AGM, the council made the motion to relegate the CWJHL from junior B to junior C, citing poor performances versus teams from the St. John’s Junior B Hockey League during Veitch Memorial provincial championship play. The junior council also desired the Central/West setup put a proper executive in place, instead of continuing to operate under the authority of the three teams themselves.

Neither ruling was met with much positivity, particularly from Dobbin.

“Ron Dobbin is refusing to live by the rules and regulations,” said Taylor.

Once time became a factor, the junior council relented on its wishes for a true executive, instead suggesting Western director Ron Downey oversee all decisions made by the representatives of the three teams.

“I said ‘no problem,’ but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen,” Downey said. “I can’t say there’s not going to be a league, I know it’s still salvageable time-wise, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

Downey wouldn’t specifically address the issue of outstanding fines, but did say HNL wasn’t receiving full commitment from all three CWJHL clubs.

“It’s kind of sad actually,” he said.

Dobbin has now focused his attention on establishing a collegiate hockey league in the province, which he says would feature students from schools such as Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland and College of the North Atlantic.

“It’s going to take some planning and some dedicated people, but the intention is to have it running next year,” he said. “There’s no such thing on this island as a collegiate league — every other province has one.”

Taylor, meanwhile, is holding out hope something can be done to save the CWJHL, which has existed in one form or another since being resurrected in 2004. Even with rumblings, heard by Taylor and Downey, that the delay in starting the season has provoked many eligible players to look for games elsewhere, the junior council chair said the opportunity is still there for the teams to pay their fines, register for the season and go ahead and play.

“We’d love to see that happen,” he said. “Right now, it doesn’t seem like they’re going to do it.

“I know it’s a lot of hard work to operate the Central/West league, much harder than it is in St. John’s because of travel and the money that’s got to be spent,” he continued. “They’ve done a great job the past three or four years, they kept it going and we were so proud of what they were doing, but it’s all coming apart here.

“It’s just sad to think about.”

If a miracle scenario to save the league involves Dobbin buckling on his personal beliefs regarding the fines, then any hope is likely as absent as he was at September’s AGM.

“The Central/West league is done,” said Dobbin. “Absolutely done.”



Organizations: Memorial University of Newfoundland and College of the North Atlantic, CWJHL, Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador West Junior Hockey League Stephenville Junior Jets Junior B Hockey League

Geographic location: West Junior, Port aux Basques

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Recent comments

  • Alex
    December 20, 2013 - 21:46

    If HNL was interested in the CWJHL they would have not dropped this to the "C" division. Poor performances versus the St Johns teams was the reason but I have seen a trend over the past several years that the avalon teams dont want to travel off the avalon. It became obvious a few years ago when the minor hockey grading report was released and all the avalon teams were in the same division, the "B" division no less. This after a couple of years of the avalon teams refusing to travel to the west coast for Easter tournaments.

  • Ed. Anstey
    December 19, 2013 - 07:59

    can you please change the TEXT format? i sometimes wonder if these minor hockey execs are just there for their own egos or are they truly representing the young children that just wants to play the game.