AMHERST – Members of the Bent family are disappointed with the Maritime Junior Hockey League’s decision to remove their father’s name from the Nova Scotia division.
Jim Bent, who has been active in the league as an owner and partner in franchises in Amherst and Halifax, said Thursday he received a “courtesy” call from the league telling him the Maurice Bent Division was being renamed the Eastlink Division as part of a sponsorship agreement between the league and the communications company.
“I receive a courtesy call from the league, but was never asked permission. I appreciate the call, but I’m still disappointed the league chose to take dad’s name off the division,” Bent said. “I can understand where they’re coming from, though. If it was done because the league needed the money for financial stability and viability, I’m sure my father would have understood if he were still alive. It’s still disappointing though.”
Late last week, the league announced the name change effective immediately and indicated a sponsorship agreement is close for the league’s other division, the Roger Meek Division.
Maurice Bent was an Amherst lawyer, who in 1967 founded the Amherst Junior Ramblers franchise. He also wrote the constitution and bylaws of the former Metro Valley Junior Hockey League.
“In 1994, when the league chose to name the division after dad we were all really honoured,” he said. “It’s been a source of pride in the family since then.”
Bent said he has received calls from friends saying the family should fight the league, but he’s not sure it would do any good.
Bent’s brother George is more adamant. He didn’t know about the name change until earlier this week.
“I didn’t know anything about it. A friend of mine asked me about it and I said about what?” he said. “I was shocked and surprised because it meant a lot to us.”
He said he’s not sure if naming a trophy after his father would be the same as having a division named for him. He said he has no issue with Eastlink and suggested the division could be named for both his father and Eastlink.
“I can’t understand why they didn’t call it the Bent-Eastlink Division or the Eastlink Bent Division?” he said.
Walter Maltby, who was the first manager of the Ramblers, said he is very disappointed.
“It’s a real kick in the pants to the family and the Ramblers. Considering what he did for the league in those early years to get it off the ground, this is a lack of respect,” Maltby said. “I don’t think the younger people running the league today understand what he did for the league.”
He is hoping the league will do something to continue to honour his father’s name. League president Derryl Smith indicated last week the 11-team loop is considering naming one of its top awards after Bent.
Smith said Thursday the league still intends to honour Bent sometime later this season. He said the league did its due diligence with the Bent family.
“Things change and move on. Unfortunately we’re in an era where there needs to be sponsorship to make things viable,” Smith said. “We talked to the family. If they had been upset about it or didn’t want it to happen we would’ve had to re-evaluate it and bring it back to the board.”