Paiement seeking chance to play in Hartford; Roach mulls over options while Bailey to join Navy.
Two of the more sought-after players at the Lewiston Maineiacs farewell to the fans last week at the Colisee were seated at the first two tables.
With the line snaked all the way back to the first set of locker rooms, the finality of the moment seemed to sink in.
Jonathan Paiement, the first player in line, along with fellow 20-year-old defenseman Brandon Roach, signed autographs as members of the Maineiacs’ roster for the final time.
“Wow,” Paiement said. “It was really fast. I was only 18 when I came here, and it seems like it was only a month, and now here I am leaving.”
Part of what makes any team in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League successful is the quality and leadership of its 20-year-old players, said Lewiston coach Clem Jodoin.
In the playoffs, though, Derek Bailey, who played in just 39 games all season, and Paiement missed the team’s final two games.
“I feel bad for Paiement to have ended up his 20-year-old year in the stands instead of being on the ice,” said Jodoin. “But he made the decision, and he has to live with that decision now.”
Paiement said last week that he jumped off the bench because a Halifax player was bad-mouthing the team and the organization. For that action, he received a five-game suspension.
“I was believing to the end,” said Paiement. “I was hoping they could win the first series so we could go to another one and I could play.”
For Bailey, the future now has little to do with hockey – he plans to join the United States Navy.
“It’s just going to be a new experience, see parts of the world and travel,” said Bailey. “I think I need a lot of discipline, so I think that’ll help me, and then probably go to college after that.”
Bailey had quit playing hockey for three years before coming to Lewiston, and he credits the game, and the team, for stabilizing his life.
“This began my life, really,” said Bailey. “I quit hockey and then came back here, got to do some traveling. That’s part of why I want to join the service, to do more of that, meet new people and see a different way of life.”
Paiement and Roach, on the other hand, are still going to be closely involved with hockey – at least they hope so. Paiement, property of the New York Rangers, is still hoping for a chance to show what he can do with their AHL affiliate in Hartford this season.
“I hope they call me and I can go to Hartford for the playoffs,” said Paiement. “But I’ve got to bust my (butt).”
Roach, meanwhile, is not signed or drafted, but that doesn’t mean he won’t latch on somewhere.
“I still have all my options open right now,” said Roach. “I’m hoping there’s some interest in me for an NHL walk-on or something like that, but if I can’t do that, I guess I’ll go to university and use my school package that I have from the league and try to get something done there. If hockey can’t get it done for me, I guess I have to go to school.”
There, he could play hockey in the Canadian system.
As for Jodoin, the merry-go-round of players will begin soon, at least on paper. As the draft approaches, the answers to next season’s player puzzle, including a new batch of over-age players, will begin to surface.