JDA Kings Lose Two
The holiday season is a time for hockey teams to recoup and recover with their usual Christmas break but it wasn’t quite the case for the Grande Prairie JDA Kings this year. In one of the more stunning turn of events that will happen this season the Kings are in a world of hurt following the loss of players Corey Wamsteeker and Mac Putio to some questionable sport ethics on behalf of the WSHL (Western States Hockey League), the Bay Area Seals and Pierre-Luc Racette, the director of player personnel and scouting for the Seals hockey club.
“Angry would probably be an understatement” was one phrase mentioned.
“The fact that none of our executives or any coaching staff were contacted in regards to this is pretty pathetic on the part of Racette and that hockey club, we asked numerous times to be contacted but received nothing”.
Normally this wouldn’t be an issue within Hockey Canada or Hockey USA for that matter as there are rules, suspensions and fines put in place for teams and executives who “poach” players or are found tampering. But the problem lies within the league itself as the WSHL isn’t sanctioned by USA Hockey. A few years back the WSHL broke away from the governing body and opted to join the AAU. Under AAU guidelines (if there are any with this) anything goes apparently.
The Western States Hockey League has been in operation since 1994 but just recently broke away from USA hockey to join the AAU. It was originally promoted as a Junior B league but in 2006 was promoted to TierIII Junior A, which essentially is Junior B.
“It’s classified as TierIII Junior A and while we don’t know a lot about the WSHL from scouts we’ve talked to and opinions we’ve read it isnt as good as most Junior B leagues in Canada” said Walker.
“We feel the hockey up here is obviously better but I guess the lore of being in Southern California is what drew both there”.
With the loss the Kings are left with some huge question marks both up front and on the backend. Wamsteeker was a regular fixture on the Kings top line and Putio often found himself on one of the two top D pairings throughout the majority of the season.
“Obviously losing Wammer and Poots is a huge problem. It’s not something we envisioned and we had numerous discussions with them prior to them leaving. Obviously were upset but even more so because of the timing of it all” said Kings Assistant Coach Darren Walker.
“Had it been prior to our December 1st cutdown we had two players ready and willing to join our hockey club to fill the void, now we’re left with two burnt cards essentially.”
Losing two of your best players moving forward isn’t going to be an easy task.
Wamsteeker at the time of Christmas break was the leagues leading scorer with 61 points and defensemen Mac Putio was usually paired up against the other teams top lines as well helping to chip in offensively.
“It’s a time now where everyone else will have to pick up there game and perhaps use it as a rallying point for the rest of the regular season and into playoffs” said Walker.
That will start tomorrow night when they host the Fort St. John Huskies at 8:30 pm in the Coca Cola Centre.
“It’s over and done with, we’ve got to put it behind us. The mood in the room hasn’t been a pleasant one and while it’s a strange occurrence these are some of the things a team has to overcome to win a championship”
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