Big decisions

Jason Malloy
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With the QMJHL trade window soon opening, P.E.I. Rocket's Serge Savard Jr. will have to decide if he’s buying or selling

Serge Savard Jr.

The P.E.I. Rocket will play its 34th game Sunday when they host the Saint John Sea Dogs at 3 p.m.

As the team approached the midway point of the 68-game season, The Guardian sports editor Jason Malloy sat down with Rocket president and governor Serge Savard Jr. earlier this week.

The team has had a good first half, has announced it will change its name to P.E.I. Islanders next fall and is preparing for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s trade period, which runs from Saturday, Dec. 22, to Jan. 8.

Q: How do you feel the first half of the season has gone?

A: “If I look at the whole season, I think the team performed very well.”

Q: Are you surprised at how well the team has played?

A: “I knew we had good goaltending coming in. Surprised? Yes and no. A little surprised, I have to tell you. The team has performed very well. It’s a very tough division.”

Q: What’s been the biggest surprise so far?

A: “Josh Currie. He’s an Island boy who’s stepped up. He’s the best scorer in the league. For me, he was a fifth-round pick. I am very proud for him.”

Q: The trade window opens in about a week. Are you a buyer or seller?

A: “Don’t know. We’re looking at everything to improve the hockey club. . . . One thing I can promise you, the Rocket, after Christmas, won’t be weaker.”

Q: Would you consider moving one of your 20-year-old players?

A: “If my club is better, yes. If it (makes) the Rocket a better hockey club on the ice the next day, for sure.”

Q: The fact you have two No. 1 goalies, would you consider moving one of them?

A: “We’re in the middle of the pack right now and we have some assets, so we’ll look at everything.”

Q: Will you mortgage the future to load up for just one year?

A: “I want my team to compete this year and the year after and the year after.”

Q: Would you trade a couple of assets for a 20-year-old player who you will only have for part of one season?

A: “I cannot answer that question right now. It’s too early in the process for trades. … Am I going to trade a (Alexis) Pépin? No, I won’t.”

Q: Is there much talk within the league?

A: “… This year, there are six or seven buyers, six or seven sellers. It’s a weird year. You don’t have a Saint John that’s going to win everything.”

Q: You are going to be without Tomas Pavelka and Matej Beran (world juniors) as well as Pépin and Nathan Yetman (under-17 tournament) this month and into January. Are there players in the organization that could potentially be called up?

A: “We’re going to call Carl Chenier up probably Dec. 27th or 28th.  He’s a third-round pick (2011 draft) from Lac St-Louis who plays in junior A. … We’re going to call him up and give him a good test.”

Q: What about  Neil Robinson, who was a fourth-round pick in 2012, has there been any movement with him reporting?

A: “He wants to go NCAA, but my chief scout, Giles Tremblay, made a follow-up with him. He’s a guy that we’re going to try to bring into our system. He’s a very good hockey player. We took a chance on him, we knew his intention was . . . We spoke (Tuesday) with him, he’s very happy where he is, but next year is next year. We’re certainly going to put in a lot of effort to bring him in.”

Q: Another player is Joshua Courtier, a defenceman from the Boston junior Bruins, who was a 10th-round pick in 2012.

A: “I talked to his father . . . two days ago and the kid has intentions to come here. He’s an outstanding hockey player. . . . We took a chance on him, but it’s looking good. We’re working very hard to bring him in (for 2013-14).”

Q: How important was this year’s draft in where you are at right now?

A: “The Savard family doesn’t think short term. . . . We’re not going to sell the farm. We wouldn’t do that. Next year, Trent (Birt) is working so hard to rebrand this team and I want to have a good club on the ice next year too.”

Q: Given how well you have done, are you surprised people still haven’t come out in a big way?

A:  “No I am not because it’s our fault. Over the years we gave them a bad product and it takes time to bring people back… I think it’s coming. We have a good product now and I hope fans are coming, but it doesn’t happen overnight. We’ve been bad for five years. I cannot blame the fans or anybody, I take the full blame for that.”

More Rocket, B3

Organizations: Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, NCAA, Joshua Courtier

Geographic location: Iceland, Saint John, Lac St-Louis Boston

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Recent comments

  • Its simple
    December 18, 2012 - 09:41

    Its simple why people are not going...$$$$$....I love hockey but its hard for me to justify 16.50 for a it was 11 or 12 there would be more chance of having me show up-I preach to my girlfriend we have to watch or pennies-so for me to spend 16.50 is a little much......

  • Chief Scout
    December 17, 2012 - 09:52

    Time for people to support them - 2-3 fights a game, winning more, exciting games, local talent....and team is devloping reason not to take your kids...only the adults count the wins and losses...get behind them

  • Brutus
    December 16, 2012 - 12:19

    It's nice to see a winning team finally I am one of those fans that has gone back and I'm telling ya hockey fans this is one exciting team at least Serge is owning up to his mistakes and it's looking like he is trying to fix things now lets get out and pack the CCC.

  • Rocket Fan in Alberta
    December 15, 2012 - 13:41

    Great article asking great questions! Nice to see a follow up on the draft picks that you don't hear about/forget about. As for the Rocket, no way they can be sellers, if they trade Duffy or Currie or any other asset(aside from Lagace) they might as well pack up shop and leave for good. The team is in need of two more pieces, one top 6 scoring fwd and a top 4 D man, which will come at a price... either way, it'll be interesting to see where they go from here.

  • Islanders
    December 15, 2012 - 11:28

    And it's also a shame that as fans haven't had a team that has been to the semi finals in the last ten years and hasn't even been out of the first round of the playoffs (not that getting out of the first round is a worthy goal). Every other Q fan in the Maritimes has been treated to that at least once by their team's management. That is the real shame. You reap what you sow.

  • Michael Gilbert
    December 15, 2012 - 07:18

    As a past advertiser , and an avid fan the Rocket Team , I think this year (to date) has been some if the best hockey that I have enjoyed watching the Rockets play ! It's ashame more people aren't coming out to enjoy & support our team!!! Looking forward to some good trades to strengthen our team for the second half of the season!! P.S. Currie has been playing GREAT hockey !!!!