Gatineau Mustangs say they are likely out of Ontario Junior B league
The Gatineau Mustangs are expecting to be kicked out of the Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League Monday evening as the league shrinks, but say they are concerned they are being punished for the behaviour of some fans.
Mustangs co-owner Jean Leblond said the team is likely to be one of six teams culled from the 22-team Junior B league when the league announces changes Monday night.
Leblond says his organization is in good financial shape and draws some of the largest crowds in the league to its arena in Buckingham, Que.
But Leblond believes them team is being unfairly singled out because they are in Quebec and because of reports of unruly behaviour.
Tasso Vasilas, the coach of the Ottawa Canadians and co-chair of the league, confirmed Gatineau and Shawville, the two west Quebec clubs in the league, will be among the six teams cut from the league as it tries to reconfigure as a Central Canada Hockey League Tier II league. The revamped league would then be positioned as a feeder league for Junior A hockey.
Defenceman says crowd energy was fun for players
Nicholas LeGuerrier, a defenceman on the Mustangs who was expecting to play for the team next year, said he is disappointed.
LeGuerrier, 21, said he enjoyed playing in Buckingham this year and will miss the energy of the arena. He says as a 21-year-old player, there also likely won't be room for him in a league that will likely shift to younger players looking to move up into Junior A.
"This was one of the only leagues you could play at a high level and juggle school at the same time," said LeGuerrier.
The Mustangs also felt a CBC News report of unruly, drunken behaviour at their arena sealed their fate. The owners said they were prepared to work with the league to improve decorum at the rink.
LeGuerrier said he didn't feel the arena fans were any worse than at other rinks, but said because there are so many fans the bad behaviour is amplified.
"There aren't any other rinks in the league that have as many fans as that," he said. "[As a player] it pumps you up you want to play in a rink with that many fans."