Photo Credit: Digital Sports Photography
Hockey is a team sport and that is no different off of the ice. We all want hockey to return and we all need to work together to make that happen.
The Ontario Minor Hockey Association is following the public health guidelines of the Government of Ontario and the Ontario Hockey Federation’s Return to Hockey Framework. The framework is currently in Stage 2 – Phase 1, which allows for Individual In-Person Training and Group Virtual Training.
The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the hockey world has affected every organization. To ensure a safe return to the ice, communication between associations across the country and around the world is vital to get the best practices under control.
Ian Taylor, the Executive Director of the Ontario Minor Hockey Association, and Glen Andresen, Executive Director of Minnesota Hockey, joined the season finale of The Coaches Site's Glass and Out Podcast to discuss how the response to the return to hockey compares in various provinces and states.
“We’ve gone through the process of starting to plan contingencies, when we can start, what that might look like. We’ve heard a lot about when we might return to regular hockey and 5 on 5 hockey, and looking more and more that we may be in a situation where we may get back on the ice but it certainly isn’t the same hockey that we left back in March,” said Taylor.
The biggest challenges according to Taylor are simply not knowing the answers to all of the questions. Even when hockey does return, what it will look like and how it will be different still remains to be determined. During this time, the typical off-season, preparations are being made for the season as it would normally happen but with the understanding that there are contingencies.
“Some days you’re just talking about what-ifs. That’s kind of where we are, we’re still in a what-if situation. At the end of the day there’s nothing definitive except for whatever we do we’ve got to make sure it’s in the best interest of the kids and everyone is safe. When hockey is ready to come back, we’ll be ready for it.”
Minor hockey associations have had to adapt from simply being users of city facilities to now partners to ensure that proper protocol and guidelines are being followed. The OMHA is working with the Ontario Recreational Facilities Association on what guidelines are be needed for a safe return to rinks.
It is understood that everyone wants to get back to the rink. Not just to skate and play games but to see teammates again and socialize. It’s important to remember that one of the worst case scenarios would be having to stop the season after starting it again.
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“All these people making these decisions have never done this before. They’re all trying to do what’s best and what’s safest. That’s something we have to keep in mind,” said Andresen. “We have to do whatever’s safest and try to block out the noise. We’re never going to please everybody with this. We’ve learned that early on this process. We’ll keep doing the best we can.”
Take a moment and reflect on what the last few months have given us. We can appreciate family time even more and its allowed for a reset and evaluation of how we spend our time and activities. Finding that balance when hockey comes back can’t be forgotten.