photo by Bridget Samuels/bridgetds
After development camp practice Tuesday, Samuel Carrier and Samuel Henley left the rink at Kettler Capitals Iceplex walking side-by-side. This year's camp is a reunion of sorts for the two.
They had been teammates for two seasons, but now, their team no longer exists.
On May 31, 2011, the owners of the QMJHL voted to fold the Lewiston MAINEiacs, based in Lewiston, Maine. The team will return (somewhat) as an expansion team in Sherbrooke, Quebec for the 2012-2013 season.
The group relocating the team to Quebec, owned by former NHL goaltender Jocelyn Thibault, would not have been able to relocate the team in time for the 2011-2012 season, and so the team had to completely disband via a special dispersal draft.
The dispersal draft took place on June 3, just a few days after the league announced the decision to fold the team. It was a tough situation for all the players involved as it was, but the QMJHL also completely botched how they handled the dismantling of the MAINEiacs.
Some of the players, active on Twitter, said that they had no idea what was going on in the days between the folding and the dispersal. No one in the league was in communication with the players, and the players were understandably panicked about their futures.
Cameron Critchlow, captain of the MAINEiacs, was also one of the more candid players, tweeting on June 1, "Wants to send the #qmjhl a big @#9* off and let the god damn boys know what's going for crying out loud what a joke."
Tuesday, I spoke with Sam Carrier, who was selected second overall in the dispersal draft by Baie-Comeau Drakkar, about the situation in Lewiston.
"It was pretty tough. No one knew what was happening," Carrier said. "The news came out one or two days before the dispersal draft. It was weird. It was the first time I'd seen that. Every player was like, 'What's going on?' We were talking on Facebook and Twitter, and nobody knew, so it was weird."
But Carrier is looking to move on with his new team in Baie-Comeau. He said that the Drakkar brass called him before the dispersal draft, and he met with them at the junior draft. Drakkar's head coach, Mario Pouliot, was Carrier's coach in Midget AAA (at Collège Antoine-Girouard), so his transition should be a fairly smooth one having previously worked with Pouliot.
Carrier does know some of his new teammates as well, saying that he has trained with a couple of them in the past.
He's hoping to further improve his game next season, after making strides last year with Lewiston. In 14 playoff games, he scored 15 points, and was a huge part of Lewiston's push in the postseason. Carrier feels he also improved on the other side of the game.
"I think my defensive side of the game improved a lot, just looking at the stats. Last year I was -9 and then this year I was +40," said Carrier. "It's a huge step for me, and I want to continue with this."