Cam Russell

Clarke is out, but is it the right move?

Clarke's future is up in the air

(Photo Credit: Richard Lafortune)

By: Henry Whitfield

After a year of issues where Garrett Clarke was benched numerous times by both Cam Russell and more recently new Head Coach Bobby Smith, it was only a matter of time before the young defencemen was cut or dealt by the team.

This week, the team announced that Clarke would be parting ways with the team and that his time in the uniform of the Halifax Mooseheads was over.

It is a confusing ending to the Moncton native’s time in Halifax and for many it was a move that came far to late, but comes at a bizarre time.

Although Clarke was guilty of taking a number of bad penalties in his last game on the ice, this is a player who came into training camp with a new mentality and much better play than last season.

At times last season it appeared that Clarke did not know what the team and coaching staff expected of him, when Spencer Metcalfe was traded in the middle of the season and Sawyer Hannay failed to make the impact needed of the enforcer, it often fell to Clarke to step up and defend the better players and pick up the edge that made him notorious for big, open ice hits but vulnerable to penalties.

The purpose of the Q is to develop these young, talented players into men that can play hockey at the NHL level.

The big question is right there waiting to be asked: Did the Halifax  Mooseheads do what they needed to in order to develop and help Garrett Clarke into becoming a better hockey player and defensemen?

Probably not.

This is a team that finished at the bottom of the league two years in a row and is heading down that path again, a team that has under performed and full of players that have the potential to be stars in this league but seem to be missing the coaching, mentoring and encouragement that young hockey players need.

Sure, Garrett Clarke had a large role to play in his own demise in Moose Country but the responsibility for this failed experiment lays squarely at the feet of Cam Russell and this coaching staff.

With the same staff intact, is it possible a player like Martin Frk, who plays with a very similar edge as Clarke, will go down the same road?

Only time will tell, but I wish Clarke all the best wherever he ends up and maybe he’ll find a coaching staff that can help him adapt his game and hone in that edge.

Henry Whitfield is an avid Mooseheads fan and you can find his thoughts on sports and more on his blog, or follow him on twitter @HenryWhitfield. You can also listen to him on air as a regular contributor to the Bill McLean Sports show on 88.1 CKDU.

Cam Russell Gone.. But wait.. What?!


Bobby Smith is going behind the bench.


By: Henry Whitfield

Monday morning my world was rocked and fans were left with a mixed feeling of euphoria and the feeling you get after being punched in the stomach.

Bobby Smith had finally stood up and rid Moose Country of Head Coach Cam Russell, or so we thought.

In a move that would shock the most outlandish sports fan, Smith demoted Cam Russell to an assistant coach in charge of the defense, while keeping  the former NHL player as his General manager.The punch in the stomach? Majority owner Bobby Smith himself taking over behind the bench as Head Coach.

Many fans had hoped that when Russell was booted out of Moose Country, that not only would be gone for good, but the team would bring in a proven coach with real pedigree.

Don’t get me wrong, Bobby Smith has a wealth of experience, with his 15 years in the NHL split between the Minnesota North Stars and Montreal Canadiens combined with 5 season’s as the General Manager of the Phoenix Coyotes, just none behind the bench.

So while many fans were hoping for a proven coach behind the bench, we’re getting an owner who thinks the time is right for him to step behind the bench.

To be fair, he can’t do much worse than the last two seasons with the team finishing last in the league and has shown lacklustre performances over that time period.

Chris Cochrane of the Chronicle heralds wrote today that he though that this may be a needless distraction and that the results on the ice were largely not Cam Russell’s fault, however someone has to be held accountable for the lack of passion on the ice.

Whether or not the roster was thin, there is no excuse for a team to continually come out flat in a third period, no excuse for continually making the same defensive mistakes and no excuse for a lack of passion on the bench.

One thing is clear, Bobby Smith is a passionate owner who cares about this club and if it means that we finally have someone behind the bench that won’t just stand with his arms crossed and ignore his players during a TV timeout, then I’ll be a happy fan sitting in the bench.

Smith will bring that fire into the dressing room and one can only hope that the fire and energy from the owner will show in the play of the team on the ice.


Henry Whitfield is an avid Mooseheads fan and you can find his thoughts on sports and more on his blog, or follow him on twitter @HenryWhitfield. You can also listen to him on air as a regular contributor to the Bill McLean Sports show on 88.1 CKDU.