Currently sitting first overall in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League at the mid-season break, it would be understandable if the Sea Dogs chose to go all in this season during the holiday trading period. But Saint John is still very much committed to hosting - and winning – the Canadian Hockey League’s top prize next season.
Sea Dogs head coach Gerard Gallant told the Moncton Times & Transcript on Monday that the future is still key.
"I don't think we're going to react to anybody," said Gallant. "If it's a smart deal, we're going to do it. If it's not smart in our minds, we're not going to do it. Sure, there's other teams that are going to load up and get better.This is basically the same thing Gallant and director of hockey operations Mike Kelly said last season during the trade period when the Moncton Wildcats loaded up and ultimately beat the Sea Dogs in a six game President’s Cup Final.
"We'll try to tweak our lineup a little, but we really like our team. We're not going to trade our young kids to make deals for one season. We're not going to risk the future of our club. If we can make our team better, we'll do it. If not, we'll move forward and do the best we can."
The Quebec Remparts sit just two points back of the Sea Dogs for first. The Montreal Juniors are three points back. Last season, thanks to a 22-game winning streak, there was a much wider margin in the race for first than this season. With the Sea Dogs knowing there are at least two teams knocking on the backdoor, could this have an effect on how they swing some deals?
Rogers Sportsnet junior hockey columnist Patrick King shared his thoughts today:
Many predicted the Montreal Juniors and Saint John Sea Dogs would be in the running, but not as many were quick to anoint the perennial contender Québec Remparts in that same category. All three teams are atop their respective divisions heading into the break with only three points separating them. The Sea Dogs were the class of the league in the regular season a year ago, but were unable to overcome the Wildcats in the league final. There’s a lot to like about Saint John given their experience, balanced lineup and suddenly strong goaltending from former Brandon Wheat King Jacob DeSerres.Speaking of the 2012 Memorial Cup bid, Telegraph-Journal columnist Peter McGuire had an interesting tidbit in his annual Christmas gift piece:
The Remparts and Juniors may need to be a little more active in the trade market to match the Sea Dogs’ talent level.
Scott McCain - the right to host the 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup. The plan all along was to make a bid to host next year's tournament but when the league hiked the hosting fee by 40 per cent, there was some talk of pulling out. Instead, McCain, the team's majority owner, and his fellow members of the local ownership group decided to bite the bullet and submit the bid. With four teams officially in the mix - Halifax, Cape Breton, Shawinigan and Saint John - it is believed the latter two are the frontrunners.The rate hike was probably part of the financial concerns McCain expressed in an interview earlier this season on News 95.7 in Halifax.