While nothing has been finalized, General Manager Garry White is optimistic the Gander Flyers will return for another season.
©Adam Randell/The Beacon
GANDER, NL – If you asked Garry White two weeks ago whether or not the Gander Flyers would be back for another season in the Central West Senior Hockey Leauge (CWSHL), the answer would have been an “overwhelming no”.
However, a number of things have since happened that has the club’s general manager feeling “very optimistic” about the team’s return.
The biggest difference maker is the Harbour Grace Ocean Enterprises CeeBee Stars being removed from the Avalon East Senior Hockey League (AESHL), as that league returns to a four-team format.
While the Stars have reached out to Hockey NL to intervene with the Avalon East league, White says should the organization not be successful in rejoining that league, the CWSHL would welcome the CeeBee Stars.
If a fourth team doesn’t materialize, however, all teams in the CWSHL– Gander, Grand Falls-Windsor and Clarenville – have agreed there wouldn’t be a three-team season.
However, White said, “We are confident that they will be joining our league.”
In anticipation of a fourth team joining, the Flyers are preparing, and have even put out a call for volunteers.
Seven to eight new people have already stepped forward to serve on the executive, and some of the previous members will be returning.
This time around things are looking to be different, as the previous season had a number of financial issues.
To keep teams in the black White said import players are being removed and salary caps will be implemented.
“Our budgets definitely had to come down quite drastically,” he said. “Not bringing in imports is going to cut way down on our transportation costs.”
The organization is also listening to the fans.
Based on feedback received, White said, while imports brought about a higher caliber of hockey, fans couldn’t rally around the “fly-in, fly-out” players.
He too feels locals’ playing for their community instead of the paycheque is going to add to the game.
“It becomes about hometown pride,” he said. “We have three or four guys coming out of the junior ranks looking to play with the team, and I think it will add to the way we play hockey and the way fans support it.”
Meetings will be held next week to finalize the executive for the team.
He expects a decision to be made on the fourth team within the next week to 10 days.
“If we can’t come up with a yes or no (by then), we’ll have to consider it a no,” he said.