Most people would be surprised to learn that an adult hockey league could be so busy outside our weekly games and get-togethers in early July, but this is the case in the LFA. After two weeks of inter-division games, the first of their kind in our history, we also played our first international match against a Swiss-based team, which actually had players from six different nationalities. We then finished the week by re-adjusting our teams through a few trades. Add a special game on Friday so that each team plays the same number of matches in the calendar and we end up with seven games in a seven-day stretch. Now you will understand that it has been a very busy period in the LFA.
During this period I have to find time to write the news through a few meetings on various platforms and 20 some emails per hour so that I can share with you everything that is going on in our league that far exceeds the content outlined above.
Although our South Shore division was created late in the spring, we nevertheless succeeded in integrating a few games in the calendar between eight of our ten teams through inter-divisional matches. The Rhinos saved some pride for the Montreal division, which lost three times against teams from the South Shore. The match-ups were generally tight but they did not give us a realistic picture of the strengths and weaknesses of each formation as in two cases the Montreal teams were playing with substitute players found at the last minute to fill late cancellations. The result being that the teams from the island will have lost three important points in the standings due to the indiscipline of some players, even if we have a system in place to avoid this kind of situation.
A FIRST ON THE INTERNATIONAL SCENE
The LFA's first international face-off took place on Monday, July 3. Without knowing the strength of the team that we were going to face, the administration of the league put together a team of players who had expressed the desire to play and who are friendly characters as, more than anything, this first exchange with a team from abroad had to be friendly to underline the spirit of our league. Doing what it could to be a good host, the league administration even lent to the international team three of its best elements to fill the absence of some of their players for this encounter. One of them scored two goals, the first of which came only 5 seconds into the game. Ouch!
In fact, we did not even have four "real" defencemen (lending them our best) with forwards in some cases trying their best to contain the opposing attack. For its part, the team based in Switzerland could rely on four big players, one of whom who actually took part in a training camp in the KHL. Let's just say it was beautiful to see, what a skater! Final score: 10 to 2 for the visitors.
As the tradition of true hockey players goes, most of us then gathered to discuss and exchange hockey stories around a couple of beers. An honourable mention goes to Jacob Poliquin and Stephane Pilette, who came to cheer the boys on at the invitation of the league. More than team guys, league guys!
In an effort to balance the teams, the captains and I made a few trades to give all of them an equal chance of winning the top honours in our championship game on August 27. Some people sometimes say that it's not fun to get traded. On the contrary! Sometimes this change of air can be beneficial to a player as well as a team and this balancing act is in line with the league philosophy that everyone should get to know each other over time so trades and mixing up the teams each season help in achieving this goal. Also the administration wants the players to see the LFA as a whole so that all members learn to know each other and leave behind colour barriers.
Yes, you are all there to win and have fun but it can be done by considering one's opponent as a friend. That said, it is possible only if you make the effort to meet others through the many opportunities that the league offers throughout the season. So we re-shuffled the cards to give every team an equal chance and allow some guys to get to know more players. This often translates into more respect between our members on the ice, and fewer on-ice conflicts.
Be assured that the last thing the league wants are little cliques in the LFA, so trades and the composition of our teams each year are conducted with a concern for transparency and to optimize the experience of each participant. That said, it is important to note that agreements with different players were made before the start of the season to facilitate their integration in the league or their travels to and from the game, so we had our hands tied in some cases and could not trade a player without moving his other two buddies along. Nevertheless, we think that if every team WORKS and plays as a TEAM they all have the chance to go all the way!
I could go on to talk about expansion, relocation, new projects, changes to the website and other stuff, but we will keep it for another time.
Until then, take care of yourself!