Todd Colin Vaughan/Lacombe Express Editor

COLUMN: Loss of the Lacombe Generals is a punch to the gut

Generals exit could spell doom for AAA senior hockey in Canada

So the Lacombe Generals exited Allan Cup Hockey West and honestly, I’m pretty bummed.

The Army was coming off their fourth Allan Cup — a victory they secured in dramatic fashion on home ice against the Innisfail Eagles, their chief rival.

The 2019 Allan Cup Tournament was huge boon the community, bringing in hockey fans from across the country to take in not only the highest level of senior hockey — but also the community of Lacombe which embraced the Generals as their own.

Each and every Generals game at the tournament was packed to the brim, which makes their current fait an even tougher pill to swallow.

Make no mistake, AAA senior hockey in Canada the way it is currently operated is unsustainable and it is unfair to expect team owners and management to carry on with expensive and confusing operations that are often undermined by the governing bodies they are beholden to.

That doesn’t make this news any easier for fans whatsoever, especially in Lacombe where Generals supporters were given the gift of sharing in on a dynasty team that was carried over a legacy originally established in Bentley.

The loss of Gens, truthfully, could also spell the end of AAA senior hockey in Alberta despite what a recent tweet by the Innisfail Eagles said saying they intend to continue to compete for the Allan Cup.

A team can tweet whatever they wish, but a league comprised of just Innisfail and Stoney Plain — both hilariously named the Eagles — is doomed to falter.

It was a fun league as early as last year, when Fort Saskatchewan, Lacombe, Innisfail, Rosetown and Stoney Plain channelled their inner CFL and relied on several heated rivalries in a small league to drive a solid on-ice product, but it would be a stretch to say that players, fans or anyone else is interested in watching 2-3 teams play glorified exhibition showdowns week after week until one or two of them ultimately advance to an Allan Cup final.

Quite frankly, a viable AAA league requires a minimum of six and preferably 10 teams to drive both the on and off-ice products.

Locally, this, quite frankly, sucks.

The Generals have been the premier senior hockey team in Canada for years and the core group of players the last few seasons have been special.

As a reporter, covering a team that could go down 2-0 and you just knew they were going to come back and win 5-2 never got old; covering a team that continually knew how to prepare to compete and win Allan Cups was special; and covering a team genuinely cared about growing their brand of hockey in the community was heartwarming.

I will miss the Lacombe Generals and so will what is left of Canadian AAA senior hockey.

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