Bad blood

March 25, 2014

They are teams of skill with lamplighters aplenty.

For starters, Kirkland Lake Gold Miners boast the high-scoring troika of Steve Babin, Austin Rust and Samuel Wilbur.

Not to be outdone, Espanola Rivermen can counter with gunslingers Corbin Bean, Brennen Dubchak and Brad Edwards, just to name three.

But the second-round, best-of-seven, Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League playoff series between second-seeded Kirkland Lake and third-seeded Espanola also has a pool of bad blood.

From a war of words between management and fans of both teams to the perception that Kirkland Lake is the poster child for all that is good in the NOJHL while Espanola and its indefinitely-suspended owner are the cause of nightmares for commissioner Rob Mazzuca, this series is full of storylines, real and imagined.

Let’s stick to the ice.

To be sure, the Gold Miners come into the series as favourites to upend the Rivermen.

Don’t expect coaching to decide the outcome.

As Marc Lafleur of Kirkland Lake and Tom McCarthy of Espanola are of different temperament and style, both are effective bench bosses who get the most from their players.

While both teams are about equal in terms of goal-scoring ability, the edge goes to Kirkland Lake on the blueline and in net.

PREDICTION: With home-ice advantage and a slight edge in overall team talent, it says here that Kirkland Lake takes the set in six.

JUST WONDERING: Which team do you think the Commissioner is pulling for to win?

What you think about “Bad blood”

  1. good one RR and LOL I love the part about the Commish and who he wants to Win. Good humour on your part and of course the best is…you pick the G-Miners to win!

  2. Good point about the Goaltending Randy as I think we have the definate edge there with 2 guys who can get it done with Pominville and FitzGerald. Watch out for the KL D-men who jump into the rush and score them being Meade and Langford two D-men who are difficult to contane.
    I think that KL takes it in 6, maybe even 5.

  3. My thinking is the same with us having the 2 Goalies and Espy really having only Theriault.
    Meade & Langferd have been piling up the pts too good point about them two.

    1. Actually the Rivermen have another goalie and I am sure at some point during the series you will see him.

  4. Trying to arrange a road trip up to Kirkland for one of the playoff games, will be nice to visit family and mingle with a few of the always-pleasant Gold Miner fans who I know.

      1. yes Randy ! please do join us on the bus! You can sit beside me so that I can bend your ear about all that annoys me with the NOJHL. I’m just kidding about the nattering but would love to see you on the bus.

    1. Marcus,

      Lol, I think my brother-in-law still has his hard hat from when he worked at the Wright-Hargreaves Mine circa 1960.

  5. Well this is all very entertaining, I have never heard of a team dictating a play-off schedule before. Especially to accommodate their “fans” so they don’t have to stay up late on a school night. That being said….this will be a very good round of playoff hockey with two very good teams up against one another, just too bad that can’t be the focus! These boys are here to play hockey, a good level of hockey that I for one am happy to watch!

          1. I just think this whole thing has gotten so out of hand, it’s sad for the players! So I will FOCUS on being a hockey fan and hope it’s a good round as I am sure it will be, 2 great teams playing the game!

  6. good article RR I can’t agree with you more on paper. However this Rivermen team has showed me something I haven’t seen all season and thats a higher level of heart and character. I’m sure KL will step up their game as well and I think this is going to be a series we talk about for a long time. As for your statement about the commish I think everyone who has seen a puck in their life knows which team he is cheering for! everyone knows but himself….maybe?

  7. the question about the commish was rhetorical right? Go Rivermen, let’s show the golden boys what your’e made of!

  8. Man, this schedule fiasco sure has my blood boiling. I see faults with both Clayden and the commissioner with how they are dealing with this. I feel like the players are getting lost in this exercise of muscle flexing. For some of these kids, this will be the last few games of their junior career. They should be focusing on taking that all in instead of being worried about potenially having to lose games by forfeit. just doesnt seem to me like anybody is thinking of the players.

  9. Staying away from all the drama, just wanted to note than Jonathan Langford is not a defenceman, he happens to be the left winger on the Miners top line.

    1. tweetmaster,

      FYI, that would be Gold Miner fans who made the comment about Langford and his position.

      1. Thanks Randy, but I made no reference to who they cheer for, was just correcting the position the kid plays.

        1. I realize that, tweetmaster, just found it strange that a pair of KL fans did not know a player’s position.

  10. we all i have to say is playoffs is a different story and i think your going to seea total different hockey team when we come to kl, our rivermen will be ready and our goaltenders will be ready. Plus with our fan thats are coming to kl our boys are going to feel like there at home. Because i can guarantee you will here us.

  11. On paper, the Gminers are clearly the favorites as most have indicated and although id like to predict miners in 5, the memory of McCarthy getting the most his boys two years back as they upset the eskimos in 5 is burned into my brain! Lets not forget that McCarthys Trappers knocked out Lafleurs Miners last year! He most certainly finds a way to get his boys into overdrive in the Playoffs! Where Gagne and Lafleur are system guys who hold firm to the system, McCarthy is not afraid to mix things up!

    All that being said, hes not coaching the same team, and not coaching against last years Miners, I just dont think the Rivermen have the depth to knock off this version of the Miners!

    KL in 6!

    1. eskisfan, lets not forget that the rivermen have a half dozen key guys that were a part of the championship team in northbay last year and have that experience to hopefully rub off on the rest of the team. that being said, the KL team as you said , is not the same either. its no secret that preparation and discipline wins the series. this has the makings of being a great series and lets hope it is. P.S., thanks for your coverage of the NOJHL R.R. hope you enjoy your visit back home

  12. As a fan of the “Rivermen” I am have trust in Coach Mccarthy as well as the boys . . . and wherever it is that the Boss Mr. Clayden takes us.
    I suppport the “Rivermen” because who they are not cause of the League that they play in.

  13. This will be a great series with both teams regardless of all this pointless drama! Both great teams in my opinion and I am rooting for one over the other but don’t think anyone is going to have it easy, it will be a battle! Can’t wait for the puck drop and all this to be let go so the game can be played by the boys who came to play!

  14. KL will sweep the punks from Espanola you can count on 4 STRAIT.
    KL is the best Team & KL has the best Coach.
    KL is a nice Town & Espanola stinks as we all no!

    1. Well I sink to your level and say for a useless
      jack wad you show the same maturity as your
      second gm

    2. I personally can’t wait till Espanola wins the cup so they can put this drama league behind them and focus on what’s important in their new league. A league where players and fans are actually put first, a league where they will do what’s best for the players and treat each team equally, each player equally and each fan equally.

  15. I cant wait for this Series to begin. The “Bad Blood” is there for sure as Randy say’s. To the Mgmt of the Goldminers and Rivermen just try and remember this is about the Playerss.
    …May the best team win!!!

  16. The blood is already boiling over !!
    It`s more fun when you`re on the outside , looking in ….. gotta love what the good old game of hockey brings out of you….passion.

  17. here is an idea let the Beavers replace the Rivermen in rd two, I am sure they could get some Ice and dates ready for The KL Goldminers ! what joke whats wrong with that ownership group in Espanola ? just wondering here is hoping taht KL sends you guys packing real early !

  18. If the river men don’t stop taking shots at the league as they did as per their website – there may not be a series – just saying ,

    1. Can’t do that Dcky33, can’t penalize the kids over this, not much else can be done to TC, league has fined him & suspended him for the balance of the season (i think), lol, what else can happen, he’s almost got immunity now, lol. Has the makings of a made for TV movie, starring Alan Thicke!

  19. Hey Dick the league took the first shot by screwing up IMO. Also barons fan are we still bitter your goons could not beat us. You want to see a disgrace how about your owner that will only allow 1 practice time a week cause he does not want to pay. We have multiple user groups in town and they have had the ice booked this isn’t Sludgebury where the top dog gets what they want.

  20. Everyone should relax , enjoy and appreciate the quality Hockey that we will be getting in the semis, hoping Eskies get by E L tonight and no matter which team wins they will give the Soo all that they can handle and what can you say about the Rivermen and Gold Miners , no matter what you read here I would say that both teams are closely Match so lets all be good sport here, go out support and cheer for your favorite team both semis and final will be the best Hockey we’ve had in years. Appreciate the league, appreciate R R and this blog allowing us voice our opinion and lets not abuse it, to all Owners, Manager, Coaches, Players thank you we are getting our money’s worth.

  21. as much as the managment are in a big brawl about scheduling and all that other crap with the commish, im sure both coaches and their players are focusing on hockey and not all the crap going on behind the scenes, what a way to hype up a series between two great teams.

  22. I really don’t say much but I enjoy this as much as T.V these days! There is no question this will be a well watched series. That being said the players will be ready for just about everything.

    K.L doesn’t like the behind the scene stuff and can fall apart because of it. Quite a bit has to do with the Very high intense mouth of The bench boss who losses his temper for a call or non call. The big question is are the refs going to call what it is and not tilt to one side. K.L is a good systems team but cannot go outside the box when needed. Espy on the other hand Is a push and grind old schooled team who loves to get in your face! That in playoffs is the toughest to play against. Also can change gears when needed.

    If they” Espy” get under K.L’s skin off the start it will be a very tough up hill climb for K.L after that! I like the overall structure of both teams but in a street fight game, I tilt to Espy in a tough physical series! What is K.L after there top free to go top line. Military don’t break the system! Sorry to say.

    As for Sinclair, What are you on Your team is good yes, But not the best and can be beat. This is playoffs incase your wondering! Or are you that blind! A lot has do with the Head guy behind the bench if he looses his cool or not! I think he will be fine in K.L in front of the home town fans, he has a reputation to up hold! On the road he is a different brew! Team will follow and loose they’re cool.

    This thing with the Commish! Well I think without doubt he has put enough on the table to question his ability to do the job! In the off season he really should consider stepping aside. If I was an owner of a NOJHL team. I would be curious as know what is actually happening between the lines that you don’t see! Tough to prove yes! But in my line of work this would of put up a red flag long ago to question my ability. Not just the Espanola thing! But the ability to do the right thing! I think it is time for change Even if he is doing the job right! Who is really going to trust him moving forward now! Enjoy this series!

  23. I will give the Rivermen a huge advantage here, simply because of coaching!! although both coaches are good at what they do, Tom McCarthy is the pony I would bet on!!! NHL experience, a heart the size of the sun, and he respectfully demands the most from his players. He is a true class act that no other coach in the league can hold a candle to. Hopefully Lafleur shakes McCarthy’s hand after the Rivermen win, not like last year, when he stormed off the ice after McCarthy’s boys won!!!

  24. I don’t understand this war over the playoff schedule again between Claydon and the league.

    Espo gets game #2 on a Sunday – seems acceptable. Usually games 1 and 2 are played in the home team’s barn.

    Espo gets game #4 on a Friday – seems acceptable. A second weekend game for them in their regular time slot.

    Espo gets game #6 on a Thursday if necessary – is this the problem game?

    Is all this drama over a game on a Thursday that might not be necessary?

    I read Claydon’s drama rant on the Espo website. What’s he referring to with this “we have a commitment to our area junior hockey fans where some drive an hour just to attend our home games each night, we will not ask kids to travel and stay up late on a school night to watch our team play unless absolutely necessary”?

    Is he saying that he refused a week day game (every other team plays them) because school kids from an hour away will have to go to bed late? How many kids from an hour away attend the games anyways? Should this be a priority for the NOJHL?

    1. Game 1: Friday, March 28 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m.
      Game 2: Sunday, March 30 @ Espanola 7:30 p.m.
      Game 3: Tuesday, April 1 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m.
      Game 4: Thursday, April 3 @ Espanola 7:30 p.m.
      Game 5*: Saturday, April 5 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m.
      Game 6*: Monday, April 7 @ Espanola 7:30 p.m.
      Game 7*: Wednesday, April 9 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m.

    2. The problem is the league imposed a schedule on the Rivermen without checking with the arena. the ice time is already booked for that time. The problem lies with how the Nojhl handled the situation. After they made the mistake of releasing a non playable schedule, commish then proceeded to announce that either the Rivermen play or forfeit…..where does he want us to play? in the parking lot? He said find another arena and play out of town. This is where the owner started talking about people travelling to the games and they don’t need to add time to their travels and they deserve to watch the games at the home town arena. The commish is really not being fair here, in my opinion of course. Does anyone else think it may be time for the commish to step down and let some competence back into the league?

  25. Mike is back with his crap. The league had not decided
    to call the complex and see if ice time was available.
    You are like wiarton willy you keep sticking
    your head out but no one cares.

  26. Looking back I heard that Lafleur was not approved to be one of the coaches for the team east junior a challenge but someone from the NOJHL kissed butt to get him in as video coach. Also leaving the best goalie from the NOJHL in net to the tune of 9-2 i would bet one that the T-Birds were pissed at that and should be. Also did leaving him in to get bombed hopefully didn’t hurt his scholarship chances. Word is this guy is far from being a players coach and has an ego bigger than this earth. Also not to over load this but apparently left the challenge game day before the day was done.

  27. My, my “Hockey Guy”, and I use the term loosely, you sure have conviction and hate to put people down as you have shown us on these blogs. You should try the old adage that if you have nothing good to contribute perhaps you should hold back rather than blurt out and remove all doubt that you are “not” in any know other than rumors which you alone believe.

    With the level of vitriol shown you are just about at the point of telling us you have very little in common with the hockey world but much more to do with the political realm (!). There I have said what everyone reading these probably has wished to say for a long time…goodness, Peachy is better than those comments… Try to enjoy the hockey on the ice for what it is: an excellent product supported by people who have a love of the game and passion. Our hockey players (all teams in our league) deserve our full support as fans, regardless of the colors worn! Don’t be conniving, sneaky and weasel-like (leave that to politicos in the heat of an election) when trying to dig up nonsensical dirt on anyone. Show some maturity! Thank you!

    1. Serge, it sure seems like Espanola executives are the ones posting on this site, as you infer. How else would they know so much about private conversations between the league and team management?

  28. Actually I am involved more with hockey than you ever will be my dear. Also there was a lot more to the story that could not be printed. Nice handshake by Lafleur last year with coach McCarthy oh wait thats right he didn’t. Even I have shaken hands with coaches that have sent players after my kids. Sure Tim puts everything in the open for all to see and Lafleur and the boys do it “weasely” as you out it behind the scenes. Oh and your holy commisioner insulted the people of Espanola by saying he didnt want them going to KL for games as they are drunks hmmmm. Thats classy for sure.

  29. I say good for you hockey guy! Unlike Serge, I am glad you post what you post. How else are we supposed to know whats going on around the league? I would rather know whats going on, then be a lemming thinking everything is peachy! If wrong doings are not brought to the light, how are we supposed to make changes to fix the problems and prevent them from happening again? For example how does Lafleur get away with using such abusive language towards his players behind the bench? Now before all the nancy’s get their blood boiling, I get that there is swearing in jr hockey, thats life and I’m ok with that. Besides it’s nothing these young adults have not head all ready. It’s the abusiveness towards the players that I have such an issue with, as we all heard on fast hockey. Is that the game that Lafleurs best buddy Mazzuca had taken off of fast hockey immediately, because it was bad for the NOJHL? Does anyone else think if that was the Rivermen, there would have been some hefty fines handed out? no favortism here…lol. I would never send my child to be coached and nurtured into a young man by Lafleur in a million years. Lifes hard enough as it is to have to deal with that!

    1. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt” – Abraham Lincoln

      I’m sure there’s a bloggers’ version somewhere, but I do believe this works in a pinch.

      1. NOJHL FAN 2
        That way of thinking was outdated over a century ago! Anyways, you should practice what you preach!! go ahead and be a lemming! lemmings follow each other of cliffs! ( just for mike because I can’t draw on here, that response means that kind of attitude is self distructing)

        1. Outdated? Seriously? Lincoln’s quote is known as a “Classic”…. I’m sure you’re familiar with that terminology.

          1. yeah well people back then also believed in slavery and no womens rights along with a ton of other outdated ideas! It was a completely different time back then when that made sense!!!! Quote somebody that had electricity in there life and I may be inclined to apply it to a present day problem. If everyone followed that advice we would still have slavery and woman would not be voting!!!! Speak your mind and change whats wrong to right!!!!! Or you can choose to be a Lemming.

  30. Hey Hockey Guy
    I hear The Soo and Eskies are going 2 – 2. I guess they don’t want to spend 40 hours of the week on Buses.

    My Eskies will kick the Soo’s Ass and maybe we can have a North Finals without you guys involved. We had over 800 fans last night and it was not a fabricated number.

    1. That’s a good idea for the Soo! they might as well get there next 4 games over with as soon as possible so they can rest for their toughest series yet, against the Rivermen next round. Again good strategy by the Soo, the students will have close to a week off from hockey to get caught back up on school work, before they start round 3.


  31. Lol might as well that will be the majority of the smaller league next year anyways as you guys will be named the North Pole League. Also the first time I will be cheering for the soo. So Art crawl back into your unibomber shack up there.

  32. Hey folks…why the smear campaigns? Are you so worried about the on-ice action that you have to use Putin type accusations of the sort. Why? What is the true purpose and how does this contribute to healthy discussion and opinions and debate? And that goes both ways for supporters of any team. Take a deep breath and think out where this is going and what purpose it really has. Come play in the sand (snow!) and be nice! No I do not live in a dream world but let’s all grow up a bit. Any players or youngsters or anyone reading these types of comments must wonder what the heck is happening! Nothing to be proud of IMHO.

  33. Chesty

    You missed the point of it being a classic. Surely there is somewhere in Espo that you can pick up a second hand dictionary? I say that because I get the picture; you don’t trust the internet for accurate information. The truth is out there…

  34. Well this has digressed in a hurry. I’m trying my very very best to be unbiased but I really believe that there have been a few questionable issues this year with league management and this has put people’s backs up and in return this is why we are seeing some of the less than gracious commentary coming out in this blog. Although easy to point a finger and say “keep this discussion about hockey” , fact of the matter is that some of these aforementioned league decisions really had nothing to do with hockey.

  35. Hockey guy now that the Eskies slapped your so call Hockey team out are you going to stay around to see your buddy Chestypipes get his spanking for being a big Mouth. a sweep ha ha ha

  36. I hope that this move works out for our Rivvermen Team as I have to say that I am a wee bit nervous. There is the trust facter however and those who work for the Town assure us that they are behind this so that is good.

  37. You know Randy to allow people to discredit such a dedicated man who has refused any type of compensation from KL for the last two year is really disappointing. An educated man who even does the teams laundry. His wife sews all the jerseys, his sons does the video break down and his grandson is in charge of game day dressing room prep. An entire family volunteering for the good of the kids and comminity and you allow them to be called “jackwads” Nice!
    Isn’t that what small town Jr hockey is all about?

  38. Not cheering for either K L or Rivermen but I find it very questionable that Stacy Jackson who was Mr. Clayden Asst Coach in North Bay last year is schedule to do games in this series.

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