Didn't get the results - Keefe 0
SEAN CHASE email@example.com The Pembroke Lumber Kings posed for a team photo prior to the playoff run which took them to the league semifinal. Team members (front from left) Matt Gagne, Swann Boisvert, Chris King, Will Seeber, assistant coach Scott Mohns, Brandon Gagne, coach and GM Sheldon Keefe, Justin Stevens, Nathan Siydock, Sam Gleason and Francis Dupuis. In the back (from left) are trainer Steve Gilchrist, Justin Pelock, Patrice Wren, Liam Biard, Maxime Lamontagne, Trevor Packard,
A six place finish and semifinal loss are not good enough for the coach and general manager of the Pembroke Lumber Kings.
While Sheldon Keefe is happy with the players, feeling he got all he could out of them, he is not happy with this season's results, particularly following a five-year league championship run and the 2011 national RBC Cup championship.
As the coach, GM and owner of the team, he feels he is accountable for the results and feels it boils down to not doing a good enough job filling the holes left by the 16 departing players at the end of the 2010-2011 season. He added a late start at recruiting didn't do him any favours, but he is not using that as an excuse.
"I think we proved some people wrong, but I expect more from myself," Keefe said Wednesday while taking a break from individual player meetings. "It provides motivation for this summer to do what we can to improve for next season."
Overall he is not satisfied with his performance and he believes it is important for people in his position to take time for an honest analysis of the accomplishments and what went wrong.
"The players competed but we didn't get the results so you have to ask yourself why," he said. "It was the failure to fill holes and it is my job to do that."
While some turnover of players is to be expected in junior A hockey, as he noted the Kings typically haven't lost less than 10 players since he took over, they started the season with the cupboard bare of prospects and they failed to recover.
In the past he was able to acquire players through trades during the course of the season, but that didn't happen this season as he didn't have the assets to put up in trades.
The bright spots were the young players brought in who he didn't want to move because of the commitment made to them. This meant a change in philosophy for the coach.
"We're very happy with the development of our young players and that is part of the reason we came as far as we did, and did much better in the second half," Keefe said.
He felt the players came together and worked hard for each other, which made it possible to beat the Brockville Braves in five games and push the Nepean Raiders, the top team in the league, to the brink with opportunities to knock them off in game 6 and 7.
Going into next season, things aren't going to get any easier for the Lumber Kings as the coach expects at least eight players will be moving on, and possibly more. Recruiting started more than a month ago and that will continue with a prospects camp April 21 and 22 and he hopes to have a second camp in June. He also plans to pursue any trade opportunities that may be available. The main focus is to get better offensively as scoring goals was a struggle for the Kings all season, but also filling the holes left by the departure of number one goalie Francis Dupuis and defencemen Tom Hilbrich, Will Seeber and Justin Stevens.
The players, coaching staff and volunteers gathered Wednesday night for a year-end banquet to present a number of awards. See Friday's paper for full coverage.
Tina Peplinskie is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist