Friday, March 07, 2008
Raiders on move to EFL
MASSENA — The Massena Silver and Black Raiders' tenure in the Northeastern Football Alliance didn't last long.
After joining the NFA over a month ago, Raiders head coach Jim Compeau said Thursday the team has changed its course and plans on competing in the Empire Football League for the 2008 season.
Compeau said the deciding factor behind Massena's move was the NFA's regulation of player contracts. The league rule prevents any 2007 roster player from leaving its previous team to join Massena's over the next two seasons. Compeau said several athletes playing for the neighboring squad — the St. Lawrence Valley Trailblazers — don't want to be members of the team any longer.
"Some players just don't want to play in Potsdam," Compeau said. "We're not going to leave anyone behind. This is for the players who play for the love of the game."
Massena and St. Lawrence Valley were each accepted for membership in the NFA in January. Compeau said the EFL has received the Raiders' application, and despite already establishing a 2008 schedule, the league is willing to include them. The EFL currently has six teams slated to participate this season.
Compeau is also waiting for the NFA to draw up a form releasing the Raiders from that league.
"We want to go to the EFL where there is structure and stability," Compeau said. "We just didn't feel comfortable with this situation."
Trailblazers head coach Mike Britton isn't surprised to see Massena switching leagues. He said Raiders owner Christopher Morin has been trying to lure a number of St. Lawrence Valley players to Massena, while hoping for a little leniency from the NFA in regards to the freezing of player contracts.
"He's pushed the issue and kept telling the commissioner to change his mind," Britton said. "Because he didn't get his way, he's making the move."
Britton said he was prepared to release several Trailblazers once they returned equipment and completed past payments. But he's not concerned about his roster for the upcoming season. He projects that 42 players will be signed up with St. Lawrence Valley in the next two weeks. Massena had over 30 players on its roster in early February.
"Their move may take away our experienced players that played semiprofessional ball," Britton said. "But we have a professional group of kids with a fresh start in a new league."
Britton said the most disappointing aspect of the Raiders' departure is that the two teams won't be able to establish a legitimate local rivalry.
"The past is the past, and we'll move on from here," Britton said. "Whatever they decide to do, we wish them the best of luck."
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