The lead-up to the Dec. 1 roster cut-down date could well prove to be a period of change in the Trail Smoke Eaters’ camp.
News broke late Tuesday that speedy forward Brendan Lamont had been shipped to Penticton for future considerations, but don’t be surprised if more trades and signings are made by the time BCHL teams get to 25 total cards.
But where did things go awry? The momentum this team gained on the ice, and in the community over the last half of last season was tangible, and Trail was all the rage at the Bauer Showcase this past September.
Some will point to the less-than-stellar start to Trail’s home schedule as an indicator that all was not well. Others might see the loss of goaltender Adam Todd to injury in late September as a catalyst. It seemed on more than one occasion during October’s frustrations that this team could not catch a break or lucky bounce, ever.
At the time of writing, Trail sits 14 points behind fourth-place Salmon Arm for the final playoff berth in the Interior. It’s not an insurmountable task by any stretch (the 1995 Seattle Mariners come to mind as nay-sayer silencers), but it might be more important for this team to get a head-start on building for the 2014-15 season by accruing assets and getting younger.
There are some tantalizing pieces on the current roster that are sure to dazzle the Cominco Arena faithful for years to come, and as Nick Deschenes did in turning his former KIJHL club into a .500 team in the ruthless Neil Murdoch Division, so too will he attempt to do here in the equally challenging Interior division (where three points separate first place from fifth).
This is an organization that can climb the ladder in the long term, even as a community-owned entity. In fact, before the start of play Monday, each of the three division leaders (Powell River, Prince George, Merritt) were publicly-owned. Pessimists will always point to the disparity between private and public teams in this league, but in reality, Trail finished with winning records against the dreaded Vees and Vipers last season; the surprising Centennials are 2-0 against Vernon and 1-1 against Penticton this season too.
Finally, this week will mark my final column in the Trail Times, as I prepare to embark on a new challenge in the Lower Mainland next month. The opportunity (which I regret I’m not able to make public at this time) landed in my lap quite unexpectedly, and frankly was one I (and my family) couldn’t pass up.
I’d like to thank Tom Gawryletz and the Smoke Eaters for everything they’ve done to help me live my dream over the last two and a half seasons, the folks at this publication for giving me an outlet each week, and the countless Smokies players, coaches, parents, billets and FANS I’ve interacted with at home and on the road since coming on board in 2011.
Go Smokies Go.
Ed. note: The Trail Times would like to thank Chris for his contributions to the Smokies, the community, and the Times. We wish you well in your future endeavours.