For local hockey fans, a lot of whom often decry the lack of local talent on the Smoke Eaters, a few hints.
Most hockey parents are convinced of the golden qualities of their offspring, and many can be unreasonable.
For some, if the Smokies do not guarantee a roster spot to said offspring, that is an unforgivable slight (there are of couple of instances of that percolating right now) and the expectation that local players should not have to earn a spot, but be awarded one, chafes both sides.
One local player has hired an agent to help him seek his fortune elsewhere, without success so far, so may be among those overestimating his value.
For some, a relatively stellar junior B career is enough evidence of future junior A prowess to merit even guarantees of major ice time, including power play time. A promise to award ice time based on performance relative to the performance of teammates is nothing like good enough. The simple fact that there is a quantum difference between the two levels of play doesn’t seem to register, despite a history which shows that many considered elite at the lower level turn out to be adequate, or less, in junior A, whether they suit up for the Smokies or any other BCHL team.
Most other teams are privately owned and spend little time worrying about a player’s roots. Vernon and Penticton have had very few home-grown players fueling their recent dominance of the Interior Division. They scout players, make promises to the top ones, and sometimes keep them (the players and the promises), sometimes don’t.
The Smoke Eaters do try and encourage local players into their roster, but, try not to make specific promises other than a fair shot at both making the team and earning ice time. . Standing in the way of what a player sees as an opportunity for guaranteed success elsewhere isn’t, and shouldn’t be part of the team’s process.
And, mistakes are made. In Trail there have been a lot of those over the years, including cuts and trades of players who went on to thrive elsewhere. Mistakes have been made by parents/players from here, as well.
It would be really nice if the Smokies could officially enlist local potential willy-nilly. For the half century that Smoke Eater junior teams dominated provincial play they had initial control of every player who lived in the area.
But, the BCHL has many rules designed to give teams from everywhere access to players from everywhere and the wealthier franchises make full use of those rules, as local fans have seen, without regard to sensibilities of fans in other places.
It comes down to the Smokie brass having the analytical skill to foresee a player’s future success, and the persuasive power to convince their families of the benefits of playing here. I hope that is strongly in the mix right now, because it is nice to have Junior A team and one assumes local players bring in involved local customrers.
On ice improvements across the board are necessary if we are to retain the franchise. Top tier local talent with a home base of Cominco Arena would help in that regard.
Be assured the Smokies want that, too.