commentary & opinions on the sports and political scene
Where’s My Junior Hockey ?
January 8, 2015Posted by on
So as reported today in the Enterprise Bulletin, the Collingwood Ice hockey team has ceased operations. For those counting, that’s two teams folded in the past four years. The Collingwood Blackhawks (formerly Blues) were reabsorbed back into the Hockey Canada sanctioned Junior A league back in 2011 after losing its town support when Marta
Proctor was given the steering wheel at Parks Dept.
There are two issues here, distinct and separate. The first is Mr. Dickieson’s claims; the second is the Town of Collingwood.
Tim Dickieson brought the Collingwood Ice to town after a failed attempt in Bracebridge in another league. In Bracebridge it was in the GMHL, in Collingwood the CIHL….what the initials stand for is irrelevant, they are both non-sanctioned teams under Hockey Canada guidelines that tag themselves with the “ Junior A” label and try to get enough players to pay for the privilege of playing.
Neither league has any record of success in promoting players to higher levels of hockey, other than the odd kid getting on to a NCAA Division 3 team where he pays either a portion or all of his education fees and team fees. The player Dickieson references as going on to a D3 school will most likely pay a significant portion of his education and playing fees, which for any parent of child considering a U.S. College can be a staggering cost.
Dickieson knew full well what he was getting involved with after Bracebridge. He knew minor hockey was not allowed to participate in any way with the team, so complaining now is sad. The former league trying to “steal” his players he refers to is none other than the GMHL, the very league he participated in previously! Under Hockey Canada players have their rights to play governed so this type of “stealing” can’t happen without severe penalty.
Attendance went from 500 to 30 per game? I’ll argue the 500, because my spies tell me after opening night, attendance was no more than 100 or so with most of those being parents. The quality of the entertainment determines the attendance. The Collingwood Blues were always in the top 5 of attendance even though they struggled in the win column…and it was done without any assistance from minor hockey. The Stayner Siskins are only a lowly “ Junior C” team, and they consistently have a packed house. The management simply didn’t do a good job of promoting the team and having a good business plan in place, that’s why nobody went and those that did didn’t go back.
Mr. Collver, Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture stated that “the relationship was a provider of ice and facilities”. Mayor Geddes and ex Director Peter Dunbar must have shaken their heads at that one.
Over 50 years of hockey tradition was snuffed out by Mayor Cooper and Marta Proctor, then Parks Director, when they refused to continue the longstanding relationship the Town of Collingwood had with its junior hockey teams. Mayor Geddes championed the Collingwood Blues importance to the community and actively assisted in seeing them succeed. Peter Dunbar was a former player who understood the importance of hockey as a cultural and historical part of Collingwood’s past. Both men understood what small town recreation and entertainment means to a community (see the previous article on the economic impact of the team’s departure).
The former Junior A team wasn’t being given handouts, it earned its rewards. I spoke to the previous GM quite a while ago and the list is extensive on what was taken away by Proctor et al.
- 50/50 lottery license
- Raffle license
- Arena boards rights
- On ice advertising rights
- Use of office in arena
- Friday game times
- Practice time
- Merchandise sales kiosk
- Booster club
All totaled it was estimated $20-40 000 of support or in kind assistance was removed and after several meeting with Proctor, Cooper and Arena Manager Dennis Seymour the team management had no choice but to accept a league agreement to close down.
Junior level hockey teams are not money makers, every team in A, B or C level competition struggle to make ends meet. Only the communities that value their existence will have teams …its really that simple.
The Town needs, no must, do more than be a provider of facilities…it must be active, engaged and care whether the people they serve succeed.
So to Mr. Dickieson, I can shed no tears with you…you knew full well what you were getting into and blew it (again). To the Town of Collingwood, I hope Mr. Collver’s statement doesn’t reflect the future attitude of his department because it would be nice to see junior level hockey back here …especially with all this extra ice not being used !
More on that later…….