TIMMINS - One of the Abitibi Eskimos top snipers will not be in the lineup this weekend when the NOJHL squad hosts the league’s only two unbeaten teams.
Winger Aaron Kerr, who almost made the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack roster earlier this year, will be in Acadie-Bathurst for a tryout with the QMJHL’s Titan.
Kerr was en route to Acadie-Bathurst when news of his signing broke on Twitter Friday morning.
“That’s what I am told, I haven’t heard from his father (Michael), or himself,” Eskimos coach and general manager Paul Gagne said when he was contacted by The Daily Press.
“I talked to the manager in Acadie-Bathurst and he is there on a tryout basis.”
Kerr will watch the Titan play the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles Friday night before hitting the ice for practice with the QMJHL squad on Saturday.
“After Owen Sound, the GM made a few calls and Acadie-Bathurst said they were interested,” Kerr said, during a layover at the airport in Ottawa.
He flew out of Timmins at 5 a.m. Friday to Toronto, then headed off to Ottawa, before touching down in Moncton.
“Then we are going to be picked up at the airport in Moncton,” Kerr said.
The drive from Moncton to Acadie-Bathurst will be another two-and-a-half hours, making for a pretty long day, especially given that there is a one-hour time difference.
So, it’s understandable that he won’t be suiting up for tonight’s game.
“Saturday, I am going to be on the ice with the team and then we will see how it goes from there,” Kerr said.
The next action for the Titan will be on home ice Sunday, when they host the Saint John Sea Dogs.
Kerr realizes that the style of play in the QMJHL and the OHL is different, so he will be focusing on playing his game.
“If I use my speed, get pucks deep, cycle it and all that stuff, I should be able to make a good impression,” he said.
The Eskimos retain Kerr’s rights should he not stick with the QMJHL squad.
Gagne was not sure how many games the tryout with the Titans will involve, or how long they will keep Kerr before deciding whether or not to sign him.
“I have no idea, to tell you the truth, it’s a tryout,” he said.
“If they like him, they will sign him.
“I can only tell you what Acadie-Bathurst told me … that he is going to go there for a tryout and we will see what happens.”
Kerr, who will turn 17 on Oct. 7, has one goal in the Eskimos first two games this season.
As a 16 year old, Kerr scored 22 goals and added 16 assists in 46 regular-season games with the Eskimos last season. He added an assist during four playoff games.
Kerr attended training camp with the Attack and came close to making the Owen Sound roster.
“He did extremely well,” Gagne said.
“They were really happy with him. I believe they were going to sign him, but for one reason, or another they picked another player.
“It was down to the last couple of players.”
Gagne is naturally happy to see Kerr get an opportunity to move on to the next level, but is not too pleased with the timing of the move.
“It is nice to see them advance like that, you want them to move to the next level, but not when your season has started,” he said.
“Then you go tamper with players and it doesn’t make sense.
“You know what, I disagree with that … like Owen Sound, they invited him over the summer, which is understandable, but a team from the QMJHL, they come in and they now basically want to take your roster away from you.
“It doesn’t make sense, but in all fairness you do it for the kids. You want them to move up to the next level … but there is better protocal than this.”
Gagne’s frustration is understandable, espcially given that his team will have a huge hole in its lineup when it faces off against the Soo Thunderbirds Saturday night and the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners Sunday night.
“We let go players in training camp and we set our team and now we have to go look for a replacement,” he said.
“We have to look for a first-line left winger and that’s going to cost us a lot of money, to get a player like that.
“That’s why we don’t like it when they come in during the season and take a player from your roster away.”
One player who might be able to fill Kerr’s spot on the roster is Erik Robichaud, but he is currently in camp with the OHL’s Oshawa Generals, having earlier been in camp with the Sudbury Wolves.
The Timmins native skated with the Eskimos during training camp, with local fans crossing their fingers that he might choose to end his junior career where it began.
Robichaud, who was the Eskimos top scorer during the 2010-11 campaign, spent the past two seasons in the QMJHL with Moncton and Prince Edward Island.
As a 20-year-old overage player, Robichaud was waived through the QMJHL and is hoping to catch on with a team in the OHL in his final year of junior eligibility.
“We have not heard from him,” Gagne said. “I am just waiting for some communication. I don’t know what the situation is right now with him.”