Cathcart steps down as Natives GM


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By Eoin Devereux

Neepawa Banner & Press

Over the past 29 years, there aren’t many roles Myles Cathcart hasn’t filled for the Neepawa Natives Junior “A” Hockey Club. From player to trainer; assistant coach to driving the bus and everything you could possibly imagine in between, Cathcart has likely done the job. But as the club moves into its 30th year, he’ll be in a very unfamiliar role; that of just a spectator, as he has announced he has stepped down as the team’s general manager effective immediately. 

On Friday, June 15, the board for the MJHL club confirmed that Myles Cathcart, who has served as the team’s G.M. for the past seven years, had submitted his letter of resignation. The board accepted the letter and request. In their official statement to the media, the club stated that it had accepted the letter and request and that they would immediately begin the search for an interim general manager.

Team president Ken Waddell thanked Cathcart for his years of commitment to the organization.

“There is nobody in the organization that has probably done more for the hockey team in many different roles than Myles Cathcart. The board recognizes that and thanks him for it,” Waddell said. “[The board] is hopeful that very shortly we’ll have a general manager and then we’ll be evaluating at what levels we can find someone to fill the many roles that Myles had. The search has already begun.” 

A difference in philosophy

In an interview with the Banner & Press regarding his decision to step down, Cathcart said that there is nothing out of the ordinary regarding the move, as it’s simply related to a difference of opinion on the direction of the club moving forward.

“The team has implemented a transportation fee for the upcoming season for the players to pay. I am not in favour of it and I have philosophical differences regarding junior hockey. I can’t sell what I don’t believe in, this is not negative it is just a personal decision from my own beliefs.  With this being said, I completely understand the expense of junior hockey, especially in a small market such as Neepawa,” said Cathcart. “This was not an easy decision as my family was at the ground level to start the program. My dad was the GM and I was proud to be a second generational general manager. My brother also held the position as head coach. I have friends on the current board and respect their decision as that is their task to fund the team. It just wasn’t for me anymore and it was time to move on.”

Bringing them back to respectability

Cathcart stepped into the position of general manager in the immediate aftermath of the 2011 player hazing scandal. The incident had severely damaged the credibility of the organization on both a local and national level. Cathcart was one of the individuals who stepped up at that time looking to put the club back on track. Those were difficult years, both on and off the ice but slowly, the team began to creep back into contention and respectability.  As he prepares to bid farewell to the organization, Cathcart reflects upon that overall experience.

“I have enjoyed my time with the organization for the last 18-19 years of my life helping the team stay in Neepawa wearing many hats. I do believe the team is important to the community and wish them the best of luck. I am proud of what we have accomplished bringing the team back from the [Hazing] incident and reinventing our credibility. We rebranded the team in a positive way while recruiting top-end players to the program.  We have moved many players to the next level and we developed relationships across the province and beyond.  We made a difference with the youth providing an opportunity to come here as a boy and leave the program as a man.  Thank you for all the opposing team personnel and the league office that have reached out to thank me for my time with the team.  It is good knowing a difference was made within the league. It was always nice to walk into many rinks receiving compliments about what we have been doing.” Cathcart said.

A final thank you

Cathcart stressed that he is not leaving on bad terms and was still willing to help the coaching and scouting staff with the organization of recruits. He also expressed confidence in head coach Dustin Howden, assistant coach Robby Moar and director of player personnel/head scout Byron Billett.

“Byron, Dustin and Robby are intelligent hockey personnel and the team is in good hands with them involved. [Howden] has been with us as head coach and assistant coach. We developed a positive working relationship, he is very respected and he will have a future in the game. He was a great fit for our program and has developed as a coach within his time here. Dustin forms great relationships with players and knows the game very well. [Billet] and I have worked together for a long time. He has been through the trenches with me and was an integral part of this team for many years. We have gone to battle together and with the help of the coaching staff have rebuilt this team. I can’t thank him enough for what he does. He has an incredible eye for talent, a great coach, leader and a positive role model. Robby Moar was recently hired by the team but we have had in the plan for many years waiting for him to finish his schooling.  He was named team captain under my tenure and he was actually the very first trade I ever made as G.M.  He is a smart young man, who will develop into a detailed coach.  Most importantly, they are friends of mine and we will continue to foster our friendship away from the rink. In the end, it is all about the connections and friendships developed from the sport of hockey” 

As for a final message to the team’s players, personnel and fanbase, Cathcart thanked all those involved, both past and present, who have helped the team along the way.  

“It takes the efforts of many people to keep junior hockey in a small market. I have met a lot of great people from being involved in junior hockey and it has been a lot of fun along the way.  A special thanks to the sponsors that have been with us over the years along with all the billet homes and families.  Everyone is greatly appreciated,” stressed Cathcart. “A special thanks to the players that took a chance on the Neepawa Natives. Hopefully coming to the program was a positive experience as we enjoyed every player that put on a uniform.  A great group of character young men who carried themselves with respect and dignity. Thank you.”