Volume 12 Week 5

Monday, Oct. 23


 

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

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Tim Tierney

 

 

 

 

'(Posted 10:30 p.m., April 10)
Cumberland Minor Hockey Association decides to stick with GHA, for now
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

The Cumberland Minor Hockey Association has decided to put off splitting away from the Gloucester Hockey Association for one year in order to permit further discussion of the controversial move between the CMHA executive and the league’s members.

The CMHA has toyed with the idea of breaking away from the GHA for the last 10 years or so, but they never got past the point of talking about it until this past February when the CMHA executive voted to form their own league starting next season.

For years, the CMHA has been upset over how ice time is allocated by the GHA which acts as an umbrella organization for its six member leagues which include the Blackburn Minor Hockey Association, the Orleans Minor Hockey Association, the Leitrim Minor Hockey Association, the Gloucester Centre Minor Hockey Association, the Russell Minor Hockey Association and the Metcalfe Minor Hockey Association.

Traditionally, each league purchases ice time from the city and then hands their allotted time over to the GHA which formulates an inter-House League schedule and then gives the leftover ice time back to the member associations who then schedule their practices.

One of the quirks of the system is that the CMHA, which makes up 40 per cent of the GHA in terms of the number of teams it has, ends up having to schedule practices in areas outside its jurisdiction that have fewer teams. The practice prevents the CMHA from block booking games and practices based on age level and skill which would advantageous from a develop.m.ental perspective.

It also means that many CMHA teams play on Saturday and practice on Sunday, which also puts a strain on the league’s ability to properly develop young players, especially at the “B” and “C” levels.

By breaking away from the GHA, the CMHA would be able to control their ice time and book games and practices on their own terms. Those who support the move believe it would aid in the develop.m.ent of players immensely.

The downside to the CMHA forming its own league is that the Cumberland teams would be limited to playing one another except for the odd exhibition game or a tournament.

In some situations at the “A” level, where there might only be four teams, it means they would have to play each other five or six times during the course of the season. At age levels where there are only two or three teams, the “B” and “C” teams would have to be merged together.

The decision to break away from the GHA was passed by a vote of 10-2 with three abstentions, 13 members of the executive were not present when the vote was taken.

Within a couple of weeks news of the vote started to circulate around the league, first among the coaches and then among parents. The reaction was swift and vocal with most people voicing their opposition to the move largely on the basis that they didn’t want their kids playing each other six or seven times.

The debate came to a head during an information session at Fallingbrook Elementary School on Monday night when a majority of the parents and coaches present asked the executive to reconsider their decision.

When several of the board members stated that it was basically a done deal, some people hinted that they were prepared to try and takeover the board during the CMHA’s upcoming annual general meeting and reverse the decision. In order to stave off a potential mutiny, the executive met on Wednesday night and voted to defer the move for one year in order to allow for further consultation with parents and coaches.

In hindsight, CMHA president Dan Guérin says the executive should have done a better job explaining the reasons behind their decision.

“We don’t have a communications person on the executive and it’s obvious we need one,” says Guérin, while pointing out that the decision to defer the move for a year should not be interpreted as a weakening of their desire for the league to make a go of it on their own.

“We’re still moving forward with our plans. We’re just putting it off for a year. We had an extremely high turnout at the meeting on Wednesday and a strong majority are in favour of establishing our own league.”

In moving forward, Guérin says the executive plans to form a number of sub-committees tasked with examining various aspects of the proposed new structure. One committee might be charged with coming up with ways to mitigate the impact the move might have on the “A” level teams. Another committee might explore the possibility of playing interlocking games with other independent leagues in the city.

“This will give us a whole year to get it right,” says Guérin.

It will also give the GHA a year to try and solve the ice allocation issue with the CMHA, if they feel a need to.

Should the GHA come calling, Guérin says the CMHA is willing to listen.

"If they were to come and talk to us about doing things differently we'll have to sit down and listen to them," said Guérin.

'(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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