Children take instruction during a practice session in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. Minor hockey associations across Canada have had to cut their seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and many of them are trying to determine when they will resume and how to make the game safe for children. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Hockey parents unsure about the future of minor hockey with COVID-19

Hockey likely won’t be the same for parents and children as it once was

There are two black hockey bags sitting in the office of Mike Baumgartner’s home, and he wonders if they will be used again.

Minor hockey associations across Canada have had to cut their seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and many of them are trying to determine when they will resume and how to make the game safe for children.

Through a statement, Hockey Canada said they will decide when minor hockey will return with the guidance of public health officials. Until then, they “cannot provide an accurate or fair comment on the state of minor hockey.”

It means hockey parents like Baumgartner, who has a son and daughter who play in Laval, nearly 30 minutes north of Montreal, are left wondering if it will be safe to put their children back on the ice.

“I’m on the fence about that. We live with my mom, who’s an older woman. I’m asthmatic, my kids are asthmatic,” Baumgartner said.

Hockey Quebec will send an action plan for minor hockey to the Quebec government at the end of the month.

Hockey Montreal president Yves Pauze confirmed some rule changes that were being discussed, such as teams playing each other at 3-on-3 or 4-on-4, as well as teams playing locally and not participating in tournaments outside of their region.

“As long as we don’t have a vaccine, there won’t be hockey played like how it’s normally played,” Pauze said.

Some local associations, such as one in Kahnawake, 15 minutes away from the Island of Montreal, are bracing for huge drops in enrolment once hockey returns.

Kahnawake Minor Hockey Association board member Lou Ann Stacey said there are over 100 children enrolled annually in her organization. She said parents have indicated through social media that they would rather see no hockey being played than to have their kids play with fewer children on the ice, and some levels might be cancelled altogether as a result.

“What if some parents choose not to send their kids or not to register?” Stacey said. “Maybe we won’t even have the numbers.”

In Ontario, the Peterborough Hockey Association is awaiting news from Hockey Canada, the Ontario Hockey Federation, and the Ontario Minor Hockey Association before proceeding.

PHA president James Bradburn is also keeping an eye out for organizations in other sports such as the Ontario Soccer Association, which recently cancelled sanctioned activities for the month of June. With summer sports like soccer being postponed, it means fall and winter sports will be next to have their fate determined.

“We’re just in a holding pattern,” Bradburn said.

Bradburn also anticipates a drop in participation, partially because families might not be able to afford letting their children play.

“You have people who’ve lost their jobs, can they afford it?” Bradburn said. “Hockey’s not cheap. Registration is $600. Throw in the equipment, if you need new equipment, you’re up to $1000. It’s a lot of money that may not be on the table for families this coming season.”

While associations determine the best course of action for on-ice play, Baumgartner says he is more concerned with what can be done to enforce physical distancing measures off the ice.

“I’d be more comfortable just getting (my kids) dressed at home, going to the arena, playing the game, and then coming home,” he said. “No interaction, you just play your game and leave.”

Jordan Bateman, an executive with the Langley Minor Hockey Association in British Columbia, suggested ideas for minor hockey in an online article that has circulated around associations across the country.

He feels there will need to be reconfigurations of dressing rooms and entrances to ice surfaces, more hand sanitizers in arenas, limits to physical contact on the ice and having only team officials as spectators in order for minor hockey to safely return.

Even if it means hockey won’t be the same for parents and children as it once was.

“Hockey is a really social sport,” Bateman said. “You get to know the families on your team really well. You become a little team for that year that you’re together. It’s difficult to express how different the sport will be for a year or two if kids can’t be in dressing rooms, if you can’t travel for tournaments, if you can’t have your full team come back because of money issues.”

Julian McKenzie, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

School buses for SD91 to start running from June 1

Parents urged to drop off and pick kids up whenever possible.

COVID-19 highlights lack of connectivity in First Nations communities

Many don’t have access required to utilize online platforms, says First Nations Technology Council

COVID-19: Fort St. James pharmacy reported to Northern Health for ‘spreading misconceptions’

“We can confirm that there have been lab-confirmed cases across the north - in both large and small communities,” says Northern Health.

Salmon closures announced for Skeena and Nass watersheds

DFO notice expands on May 21 chinook ban throughout Skeena watershed

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

Man who bound, murdered Vancouver Island teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

Revelstoke woman finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Spirit bear possibly spotted in West Kootenay

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run near Castlegar on May 27

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

B.C. teacher reprimanded for sharing homophobic and sexist memes, making racist comments

Klaus Hardy Breslauer was accused of making a laundry list of concerning decisions as a science teacher

Most Read