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Back to its roots

['Editorial']
['Editorial']

The reset button has been pressed on senior hockey.

It’s the time when teams, organizers and players go back to the roots of the game and showcase players from the local area playing against teams in the local area — sans big salaries and increased budgetary pressure.

The cycle of senior hockey has been repeating itself consistently for the past 30 years in Newfoundland and Labrador, and the western region has risen with crests of that wave, and crashed a few times riding them into those valleys.

Now, we’re again re-entering the stage many believe is the best. We’re seeing local players suit up — civic pride intact — to play against centres where community competition dates back to minor sports days of those who grew up in the area, and therefore provides a naturally occurring phenomenon we called rivalry.

Don’t worry, the rivalry is healthy and has rarely, if ever, resulted in looting in the streets or violence in the stands — at least we hope it doesn’t escalate to that.

So if this is the way senior hockey should be played, why do we get into cyclical road to its demise in the first place?

Well, the short answer is an issue of fan support.

Yes, fans are always ready to support their hometown teams, especially in a new league setup. But once that team begins to lose, fan interest wanes. A team then has to react, and that usually means paying to bring better players in. Once that floodgate creaks open, other teams respond by doing the same. Before long, budgets are nearly impossible to uphold and the communities are unable to pay for the product that’s on the ice.

Adding insult to this, paying for players doesn’t guarantee wins, and the local team is stuck with a depleted fan base and the need for more revenue to support the operation. The math doesn’t add up and, eventually, the team folds.

There are exceptions to this scenario, of course, as bad hockey decisions can affect the team’s performance, but support for the team always rests with the fans.

Senior hockey is about to start up with four local — really local — teams vying for bragging rights. Just as every sports fan follows its NHL or MLB teams to the dirty depths of the cellar and back, we should take that philosophy to the local rink in support of this — our — senior hockey.

Success of this venture will depend on it.

It’s the time when teams, organizers and players go back to the roots of the game and showcase players from the local area playing against teams in the local area — sans big salaries and increased budgetary pressure.

The cycle of senior hockey has been repeating itself consistently for the past 30 years in Newfoundland and Labrador, and the western region has risen with crests of that wave, and crashed a few times riding them into those valleys.

Now, we’re again re-entering the stage many believe is the best. We’re seeing local players suit up — civic pride intact — to play against centres where community competition dates back to minor sports days of those who grew up in the area, and therefore provides a naturally occurring phenomenon we called rivalry.

Don’t worry, the rivalry is healthy and has rarely, if ever, resulted in looting in the streets or violence in the stands — at least we hope it doesn’t escalate to that.

So if this is the way senior hockey should be played, why do we get into cyclical road to its demise in the first place?

Well, the short answer is an issue of fan support.

Yes, fans are always ready to support their hometown teams, especially in a new league setup. But once that team begins to lose, fan interest wanes. A team then has to react, and that usually means paying to bring better players in. Once that floodgate creaks open, other teams respond by doing the same. Before long, budgets are nearly impossible to uphold and the communities are unable to pay for the product that’s on the ice.

Adding insult to this, paying for players doesn’t guarantee wins, and the local team is stuck with a depleted fan base and the need for more revenue to support the operation. The math doesn’t add up and, eventually, the team folds.

There are exceptions to this scenario, of course, as bad hockey decisions can affect the team’s performance, but support for the team always rests with the fans.

Senior hockey is about to start up with four local — really local — teams vying for bragging rights. Just as every sports fan follows its NHL or MLB teams to the dirty depths of the cellar and back, we should take that philosophy to the local rink in support of this — our — senior hockey.

Success of this venture will depend on it.

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