Future of La Ronge 89ers uncertain after playoff exit

By Derek Cornet
February 14, 2018 - 5:00pm

The La Ronge 89ers have no chance of winning the Beaver Lakes Hockey League championship after dropping out of the playoffs.

“We just decided, the guys aren’t showing up, there’s no point in continuing through the playoffs,” Manager Kevin Roberts said. “We let the league know we wouldn’t be participating in the playoffs and that we would essentially shut the team down for the rest of the year.”

During the final games of the regular season, he said it was difficult to find enough players who were committed to compete. Considering all the players are adults and have other responsibilities like jobs, families and education, Roberts said there are safety factors to consider when they’re averaging 10 players per game.

The La Ronge 89ers are the third squad to drop out the league this season, with the Muskeg Lake Blades and Saulteaux 3 Stars already having done so during regular play. That leaves the Meadow Lake Broncos, Onion Lake Border Chiefs, Sandy Lake Chiefs and Whitefish Flyers to compete for the championship.

“I think everyone in the league would acknowledge that, if we had our full lineup, we were a contender to win the championship in this league,” Roberts said. “But, a lot of it boils down to our local guys just not showing up and making the commitment.”

Roberts said he doesn’t know if the team will return to the league next season, but noted he won’t continue in the role of manager. He said his decision wasn’t motivated by missing playoffs, and he was already planning to return to coaching minor hockey next season.

League President Kevin Reimer said he didn’t expect La Ronge to pull out of the playoffs. He said the season has been challenging and he’s concerned the squad might fold without Roberts.

“It worries me if Kevin Roberts has decided to not have any part of the team anymore,” Reimer said. “I’d find it very surprising if they came back next year.”

 

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