When COVID first came into our collective hockey consciousness in March of 2020, not many were honest about how things would pan out for players, teams and leagues for the 2020-2021 season.
I made several predictions over the course of what became daily and weekly updates. Many of these predictions were not popular, yet nearly every one of them ended up happening.
Fortunately with new vaccines being produced, we are nearing the end of COVID’s ability to directly impact the 2021-2022 season. The key phrase being “directly impact”.
COVID will continue to impact hockey for at least the next year.
You can expect that the Canadian border will not open for anyone who does not have a COVID vaccine. Proof of vaccination will likely be the only way Americans and Canadians will be able to cross in the future. Until that system is in place the USA-Canada border will remain closed.
Most are not expecting the USA-Canada border to reopen to tested people before September or October at the soonest. So all of you still thinking that Canada is an option had better make backup plans early. All of you anti vaccine people can forget about playing in Canada.
COVID will impact Europe and the opportunities for North American players in Europe.
On December 29th, 2020 nearly every European border entry point began requiring proof of a negative COVID test within the last 72 hours. Those without that proof were turned away and sent home.
Look for Europe to make COVID vaccination proof required for entry within the next 90 days. No vaccine, no entry is the talk in Europe now.
Summer Camps. The same as last year, many, if not most, will not take place again. So you better have your on line profiles compete with video ready to go and there is no better time to do it than now. Those camps that do happen will likely have increased fee’s.
Team tryouts. Look for teams to begin requiring proof of vaccination before tryouts. Some teams have already begun preparing contract language requiring vaccination proof in order to play moving forward.
Look for teams, leagues, schools and arena operators to require proof of vaccination as insurance companies prepare COVID exclusions for insurance coverage.
Look for full face shields to become standard operating procedure in many leagues now that they have used them this season.
Look for every league that has put pay to play fees in place to continue to charge fee’s now that they know people will pay them.
Look for teams to continue to fold as their ability to recruit and travel to showcase events continues to be disrupted.
Look for pay to play fee’s to rise this year with increased insurance and travel costs.
Travel costs for teams will rise as hotels, coach operators, and restaurants increase fee’s to recoup losses experienced in 2020 shut downs.
Look for ice fee’s to be increased as arenas look to recoup losses from 2020 shutdowns.
Now for the good news…..
Once we get through most of 2021 and get used to all these changes, things will get back to normal as we approach the end of 2021.
2022 looks to be when life as we knew it will return with some changes we will have gotten used to.
As we look ahead, we will all be back on the ice eventually, and life will move forward.
Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser