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OHL: Beaulieu on defensive after losing Carnevale

Sarnia Sting coach-GM Jacques BeaulieuWhen a team loses a player it spent three high draft choices to acquire for nothing after saying he was injured, the general manager's explanation is bound to be awfully interesting, for lack of a profound word.

Reading between the lines, admittedly, Sarnia Sting coach-GM Jacques Beaulieu sounds like he's on the defensive over centre Taylor Carnevale leaving the team to join the MasterCard Memorial Cup-host Shawinigan Cataractes of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Beaulieu, in a radio interview Wednesday, said the 20-year-old Carnevale "lied" about the severity of his injured shoulder. .

"Basically, the kid came into our office and lied to us. Said he was going to get surgery within 10 days. So we had to react to it as an organization. We appreciated that he gave us a little bit of time to try to regroup. But you know, unfortunately, he didn't communicate truthfully what his plans were for him as a hockey player." (CHOK 1070 Sarnia)

That's quite a backtrack from saying "it's not even worth me wasting my time, because there's nothing I can do about it" earlier this week. Beaulieu would be well-advised to take his own advice. He still upgraded two of his overage slots and goaltending, at least on paper, by adding offensive defenceman Adrian Robertson and forward Tyler Brown along with 19-year-old goalie JP Anderson.

Taylor Carnevale of the Shawinigan CataractesThe only certainty in this mini-saga of an overage hoping to play on a winner in his final junior season is that Taylor Carnevale does have a banged-up shoulder, only it evidently needs rest and not surgery. It is hardly unheard of for a young hockey player with a finite shelf life to land a deal in the AHL, ECHL or Europe to put off having an operation. However, does he really rate being thrown under the bus in such fashion?

There are a lot of moving parts in the time leading up to the trade deadline. It goes extra with an overage since this is the first season where the OHL had a special Jan. 9 trade deadline for overage players. The Sting also put it out there that Carnevale's time in the league was done after he was injured on Jan. 1. That scared off other teams; it also meant Beaulieu could not recoup any of what he anted up to add him from the Windsor Spitfires prior to the season, which explains why he was listed as a throw-in to a trade with the Kingston Frontenacs, who are out of the playoffs. The OHL rule that a player cannot be traded back to a former team of his for at least 13 months might have also played into this. One of Carnevale's exes, the Barrie Colts, were hoping to be a buyer.

Honestly, this does not seem to be some scandal. True, Carnevale has had the fact he changed teams twice in his early years in the league lead to people labelling him as not a team player, even though he was part of a 2009-10 Barrie team that was as strong as most OHL championship teams. Surely Shawinigan, given the challenges of maintaining a harmonious dressing room, did its due diligence before deciding to add someone with no track record in the QMJHL.

It is understandable if the Sting feel burned. Beaulieu, in a sense, asked for a lot of pressure by making 20 trades in hope of contending, but it's only added up to running fourth in their conference. At the end of the day, though, perhaps there should be some benefit of the doubt for Carnevale, who's just trying sustain a dream even if for a few more months.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at neatesager@yahoo.ca and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (photos: OHL Images).

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