Aylmer trip costs Oceanic $1,000

KATHY RUMLESKI, Free Press Sports Reporter

, Last Updated: 4:59 AM ET

For their little jaunt to Aylmer, the Rimouski Oceanic were slapped with a $1,000 fine by the Canadian Hockey League yesterday.

The Oceanic missed Friday's scheduled practice time at the Western Fair Sports Centre because the team accepted an invitation to practice in Aylmer at the East Elgin Community Complex.

CHL president David Branch said the team's actions were not in the "spirit" of the Memorial Cup tournament.

Branch said the move was unfair to the media, the fans and the tournament organizers.

"It wasn't just about availability. It's about respect for all of the arrangements London has done," he said.

About 200 fans showed up at the practice.

Branch said during his review of the event, he determined Rimouski didn't intend to embarrass anyone.

Rimouski coach Doris Labonte said the shift in practice locale was "for the good of the team."

The $1,000 will be donated to the Greater London Hockey Association, Branch said.

Crosby earns respect

One of the big reasons Sidney Crosby is such an icon in Quebec is because he can speak French.

When the Cole Harbour, N.S. native moved to Rimouski in 2003, the family that billeted him (and still does) said they would only speak to him in French.

Many top English players in the past, such as Chris Chelios and Doug Risebrough, didn't reach such star status in Quebec because they didn't learn French.

Rimouski secrets

At the Oceanic game-day practices, all the players wear the same coloured sweaters, with no numbers on them. That's so that anyone watching the practice won't know which players are on the same line.

Oceanic superstition

New Reebok helmets arrived for the Rimouski players in February -- right when the team was in the middle of its 35-game unbeaten streak. Reebok is a CHL sponsor.

The team asked permission to keep wearing their CCM helmets, which was granted.

The Reebok helmets were worn for the first time last night.

Friends in high places

Rimouski goalie Jean-Michel Filiatrault's mother, Michelle Courchesne, is a member of Jean Charest's cabinet in Quebec. She's the minister responsible for women's issues.

Rodney or Brian?

Asked if he felt he was the Rodney Dangerfield of the tournament, -- getting no respect -- Ottawa coach Brian Kilrea said the other three teams are to be respected because they have won their leagues, while the 67's are here as OHL runners-up.

"If all the attention is focused on them, it's all right with me," Kilrea said.

Asked if he has an overachieving team because it wasn't expected to reach the OHL final, he said: "We've not overachieved until we win next Sunday."

Garrett gets degree

Sportsnet hockey panelist John Garrett used his time wisely during the locked-out winter. The former goalie finished his degree in English at Queen's University.

"Only about 35 years late," he quipped.


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