The state of minor league hockey

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Goalie waiting. Pixabay

Taking the time for safety and security

With the pandemic going on, it’s no secret that sports (much like anything) have been affected to a substantial degree. The lack of sports, on top of affecting the development of youth that want to participate, also has affected the parents of those youth players. Parents want to be able to see their kids play in recreational sports, cheer them on and see their smiling faces as they play their hearts out.

With regards to this, parent Tyler Dickie was available to discuss his feelings about how COVID-19 has affected his ability to see his kids play in minor hockey 

“It is what it is. We’re in the middle of a pandemic. Would I ever choose this? No. But do I get it? Absolutely. Yeah. I’m not surprised. Earlier this year, a couple of teams could have had a chance to play four games, just in that narrow window when games were available. And in all honesty, it’s probably two or four more games than I thought they would have got when I saw the season starting. But maybe that’s just my head, my pessimistic glasses on when we start the season. I’m kind of surprised we got any games. So this announcement to me, I don’t know, I came into the season expecting very little as far as games go.”

Despite the disappointment that accompanies the change of plans, Dickie fully understands that sacrifices like these are necessary when it comes to the safety and security of teams.

“Well, Safety’s number one, right? Number one priority. And so it should be. And I guess that’s why I’m not as upset as many others maybe are, because games really don’t matter.

“And, at least, I hope it’s a temporary thing. One season kind of got lost to COVID, to the pandemic. I hope it doesn’t extend into a second season. A lot of teams and leagues and hockey was shut down. Playoffs were lost. So maybe people found that as a complete waste of time a write off for last season. So maybe they would argue that we’ve had two. But I just like I said, I understand why the decisions are being made, because safety is the number one priority. No one’s doing this out of vengefulness or, you know, to punish anyone, it is solely for safety reasons. And so I recognize that and can appreciate it.”

Despite Dickie’s feelings of safety and its standing as a number one priority, the frustrations of other parents regarding their kids lack of play may overshadow that standing. Dickie, who also works as a part of Fort Qu’Appelle minor hockey, spoke on this:

“Absolutely. I think there’s always, you know, people like that out there that maybe don’t fully grasp the magnitude of the situation. We just do our best and, I mean, we have no choice. That’s the other thing. Our hands are tied. So, if someone does get mad or yells at us or whatever, as a board, I find it fairly easy to just kind of defer and say, “Hey, our hands are tied.” I didn’t make these decisions. And you know, I would even extend that to the SHA (Saskatchewan Hockey Association). I think their hands have been tied through the last couple of announcements anyways, because it’s coming directly from the province. So, any anger directed towards SHA, in this instance, I would say is misdirected.

“But [for] one, I don’t know why there is that anger, because you’re just missing it completely. I feel. But second of all, it’s coming directly from the province when they announced on whatever day it was there, saying that all recreation activities are limited to eight people. That was done at the provincial level, at the government level. So, if there’s any anger, which, again, I don’t know how there could be or why there would be, but if there is, it should be directed at the province, at the government.”

Given everything above, Tyler Dickie is making the most of his time as minor league hockey waits to begin anew. “How?” you may ask, well through the creation of an outdoor rink that has seen some great socially distanced use.

“I am basically ‘the’ guy on it, cleaning it and had a big hand in designing it and helping put it up, but it was Lions Club members that also helped volunteer their time to put it together. At one point they did close it for about a week. Just with COVID restrictions, they weren’t sure if they had needed signage and stuff like that. Since then, we’ve reopened it. It hasn’t been used as much, it’s still quite busy but it was really crazy before that so yeah, no, it’s good.”

With everything going on, it’s great to see the creative efforts of local individuals that are putting their best foot forward. Also, for parents who are waiting for sports like minor league hockey to kick off, the NHL has officially started, and the pros are hard at work.

That being said, until this pandemic passes, we’re all going to have to deal with the harsh reality of limited everything.

Ethan Butterfield

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