As we approach October, we approach the end of the road for optimistic thinking and planning.
Those leagues who have made announcements, made relocations, and alternative plans need to be commended for acting in the best interests of their organizations and the players who are effected.
Those teams who have taken the optimist road that “everything will be ok” or “everything will work out” are about to have to face the music.
As of today, ice arenas in New York, Massachusetts, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington State, and Arizona are not allowed to legally have full competition on the ice.
Michigan requires face masks to be worn. Illinois also has restrictions, but local health officials are neither approving or disapproving of play as long as there are no fans in the stands and no concessions. Minnesota also has restrictions in regard to dressing rooms and fans at games still in place.
Keep in mind, this article is about playing hockey legally within the rules established by each State and each governing body. We are sure that some will attempt to get away with playing when they could possibly get caught by State or local health authorities.
As the old saying goes, “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission”.
The problem all teams are facing, not only those located in these States but those playing against teams located in these States, is that at any time restrictions could immediately halt play.
I am not going to debate the politics of this. Obviously politics are being played on both sides. The point is simply that teams around the country could potentially be at risk of immediate stops and restarts throughout the year.
This largely effects Tier III operators, and some limited Tier II operations. But is is likely to effect hundreds of players who have hitched their wagons to some trains that may be derailed.
While some crazies have sent me some really off the wall emails, and I have been criticized for speaking plainly, at least I am speaking.
I wonder why no one else is talking about this?
The answer is simple. Money.
Once the season begins, contracts are locked in. Prorated, or no refunds apply if one game is played. Players rights are owned by any team at any level once a game is played.
This is the business of hockey. Like it or not, it is perfectly legal and within the rules. Hockey is a business. While many forget the business aspects when everything is running well and going in their favor, they quickly realize its a business when things get difficult.
Things are likely to get difficult for some people soon. Remember if and when it happens to you, be calm. Don’t lash out at coaches or owners. Many of them wanted to talk but had to tow the league mandate of “everything will be ok”.
I wish everyone luck as we approach October. Stay safe, and I hope you have a successful season.
Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser