July 1, 2020

AT THE CROSSROADS

Forty five years ago, the University of Alberta Golden Bears and the Camrose Lutheran College Vikings won national titles after the Bears doubled the Vikings 4-2 in preseason action. Neither team will take the ice for the 2020-21 campaign.

On a broader scale, the resumption of play beyond the professional level is in limbo due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The safety of players, off ice personnel, officials and spectators at home and on the road is paramount. Only when an effective vaccine is in widespread use will the pendulum swing back

The post COVID-19 landscape will be very different. A number of hockey programs that existed before the pandemic will not return including the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns which competed in the inaugural season of CCAA hockey.

Once the dominoes begin to fall, the consequences can be devasting. The number of conferences participating in CCAA National Hockey Championships decreased from seven to two in a decade. The 1986 CCAA National Hockey Championships in Kamloops featured eight teams from seven provinces while the 1996 CCAA National Hockey Championships in Kitchener featured three teams from two provinces.

At the time, a move to consolidate college and university hockey under one umbrella was spearheaded by select post secondary institutions with hockey programs. The move would have enhanced crosstown and provincial rivalries, reduced travel costs and increased the viability of athletic departments. However, academic self interests nixed the idea.

Mistakes were made and an opportunity was missed pre COVID-19. It's time to learn from those past mistakes and do what is in the best interests of players. The formation of a new national governing body encompassing all post secondary sport in Canada including hockey is long overdue.


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