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

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

Police and ambulance crews were at First Avenue and Murray Street on in 2017 after a cyclist was injured in a crash. Kevin Mills photo.
District of Mission seeks public input on transportation planning

Online survey launched where residents can pinpoint traffic-issue areas in the community

A heavy police presence was on scene on Dec. 28, 2017 following the shooting death on Bates Road in Abbotsford of Alexander Blanarou, 24, of Surrey. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Three men charged with Abbotsford shooting death of Surrey man

Alexander Blanarou, 24, was killed in a rural area on Dec. 28, 2017

Photo by Dale Klippenstein
Hit-and-run driver knocks pedestrian into ditch in Abbotsford

Woman was walking in area of Harris Road and Riverside Street on Monday

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak records 19 deaths, 147 cases

Tabor Home in Abbotsford has been battling outbreak since Nov. 4

Abbotsford residents gather in the Clearbrook area on Monday to demonstrate against what they say is unfairt treatment by the Indian government to farmers in the Punjab region of that country. (Maan Sidhu photo)
Abbotsford residents gather to protest unfair treatment of India farmers

Locals believe new bills will devastate small farms, demand farmers be allowed to protest peacefully

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

Mirandy Tracy, left, and Tara Kurtz are two Langley mothers who are organizing a "sick out" for Tuesday, Dec. 1 to protest COVID conditions in schools. They're calling for masks and smaller class sizes, among other things. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Politician, labour leader throw support behind student Sick Out day

Langley parents started the movement to keep kids home on Dec. 1 as a protest

A family emerged with a purchase at the Tannenbaum Tree Farm at 5398 252 St in Aldergrove on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
Christmas tree season is off to an early start

People are ‘bored’ with staying home due to COVID-19 and want to decorate early, farm owner believes

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A convoy of seven pickup trucks, six of which were hauling boats, makes its way around the Chilliwack Law Courts on Dec. 1, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
First court date for Fraser River anglers ticketed during demonstration fishery

Convoy of trucks circled the courthouse in downtown Chilliwack Tuesday honking their support

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Most Read