Fairness and competition reasons behind possible re-alignments

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Rumours are swirling around many hockey rinks in Calgary about possible minor hockey boundary changes.

Maura Uchacz, a mother of two boys playing for teams in Springbank, said she knows that many parents are concerned.

“A lot of people are worried because they are comfortable in the area where they live,” she said.

Hockey Calgary president Todd Millar wouldn’t comment on specific changes to the minor hockey system because discussions are very “premature.”

However, he said that boundary reviews are underway and that everyone involved in the process is sensitive to what changes could mean for players, clubs and families.

In 2009, Hockey Calgary put together a boundary review committee that agreed to meet every three years to discuss rink scheduling in the city, as well as the population of players in different associations and competitiveness between associations.

Kevin Tyson, hockey director for the Properties Sports Association and boundary committee board member, said that before 2009, the committee had not met in 20 years. He said that they are realizing now that waiting every three years is too long in a diverse city like Calgary that is always changing.

A numbers game

Tyson said that with the recent population and “baby boom,” as well as cross-city movement in the past 12 years, there are now over 13,000 kids registered in minor hockey in Calgary.

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Parents of minor hockey players look on anxiously while their children play. Boundary changes within Hockey Calgary could mean they would have to drive their children across the city to a different home hockey club.
Photo courtesy of: Hockey Calgary
This has resulted in some associations having 1,200 to 1,400 players while others have significantly less, causing disparity among different associations across the city.

Uchacz said the disparity in population from association to association has shown itself in competition.

“I have noticed that some of the teams in Springbank, where my sons play, tend to dominate because we are just so much bigger,” she said. “You hope they put your kids in areas near where you live, but if not, you make those sacrifices for them to play.”

Ideally, Tyson said that players would have a 2:1 ratio of practices to games. He added that given how congested many of the arenas are, this isn’t possible.

“With re-alignments, there will be better hockey and the games will be more exciting and competitive,” he said.

More discussions needed

Tyson said that at times, discussions amongst the presidents of different clubs about changes in the system such as the boundary issue have been “frustrating.”

He said that there is sometimes a disconnect between what is better for a particular association versus the system as a whole. Some clubs could be losing star players or tightly-knit groups of players could be broken apart.

“Everyone involved has been positive and are doing their best to make decisions that will benefit the future of minor hockey in the city,” Tyson said.

Both Tyson and Millar said that Hockey Calgary is recommending that there be a standing review committee that meets quarterly so that it can be proactive in changes that might need to happen within minor hockey in the city for the future to avoid any “drastic changes.”

“I don’t think we should be looking at this as punishment. It’s the way it has got to be for things to be fair,” Uchacz said about the idea of re-alignments affecting her family.

Decisions regarding boundary changes concerning minor hockey will be made on June 23, 2012, at Hockey Calgary’s annual general meeting.


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