It seems the rivalry between the Oxford Colts and the Fundy Phantoms exists more off the ice than it does on. Both seem to think there should only be one Junior C hockey team in Cumberland County, and both think it should be them.
In last week’s Citizen, Colts coach Paul Atkinson said it is a shame the two can’t combine to make one competitive team. He is right. He also said that other teams have a larger talent pool to draw from, making it obvious that one Cumberland County team with the best available players would fare better against them than two. Again, he is right.
In this week’s issue, Phantoms coach Steve LeBlanc and owner Paul Morris said that the Nova Scotia Junior C Hockey League should never have allowed the creation of a team in Oxford, after the Phantoms were already established as Cumberland County’s Junior C team. They are right too.
Needless to say, there seems to be hard feelings here between the two camps. Without going too far into the history, one can find that Atkinson was a former coach of the Phantoms, was dismissed after a brief period, and much of the team’s executive left as a result. Eventually, some of that group became involved with the North Shore Storm, and that team has since moved from Tatamagouche to Oxford.
We’re not taking sides on who is right and who is wrong. No one knows what went on with that split, and the public does not need to know. What the public deserves is the best hockey product as possible be put on the ice, and it takes very little common sense to figure out that that cannot be done with two teams in such close proximity.
The league needs to take some leadership here and see that Cumberland County gets the best team it can.