Sports n’ Things: Future will decide Nicholson hockey legacy

"...It was the culmination of Nicholson’s strategy to skew hockey in this country towards elite play..."

When Bob Nicholson retired as head of Hockey Canada, there was praise from all over the top-end guys in hockey for the success he has had – all referring to Team Canada wins in major tournaments like the Olympics, junior and other age-group international championships.

All of that was true, of course. It was the culmination of Nicholson’s strategy to skew hockey in this country towards elite play, even year-round play for the most apparently gifted players at very young ages.

That strategy has mostly worked.

The other side to the story is that actual. “play,” has almost gone out of hockey on Nicholson’s watch. Enrollment numbers for basic hockey – house leagues in the main – have dropped and are dropping because kids and parents do not see hockey, the national sport most of us grew up to love, as any fun.

Hockey has also come to be seen as too dangerous for the limited enjoyment the focus on elite players affords to kids of “ordinary” talent.

Pair that with the cost of play and it is easy to see, not far down the road, participation in that national sport dwindling to a point where only those whose parents who foresee, rightly or wrongly, a lucrative career coming out of their childrens’ participation in the game will put in the copious amounts of time and money required for that participation to take place.

Yeah, I know, lot of, “participation,”s in that last bit. That is because that is what the game used to be about, particularly at minor levels – allowing any and every kid to enjoy playing hockey.

For a lot of those who operate hockey – and reap the financial rewards of that operation – that is not a top-of-mind issue, it is barely on the radar.

As long as there are enough elite players to staff the pro junior teams of the CHL, that will suffice for them. Other countries, some with rising participation from among the masses, will help in that regard, too.

The view that Canada sits atop, for the most part, the hockey world has some validity.

The rising view here that hockey as it is done in Canada these days is no fun and too expensive for many is also valid.

Both are Nicholson’s legacy. As with politicians and other influential figures, it is sometimes only history (our future) that tells the whole tale of their impact. In a couple of decades we will know the impact of the views of Nicholson and his colleagues on our most important sport.

Honestly, I am less than hopeful in that regard.

Just Posted

Trail vet says voting system has worked for 150 years

Letter to the Editor from Vaughn Budd of Trail

Kootenay employers ready to meet job seekers at Black Press career fair

Dozens of companies will attend the event on Nov. 15 at the Ktunaxa Nation Building in Cranbrook

Sandblasting Silver City skate sign

The Trail Sk8 Park was closed on Thursday so workers could ready a sign for painting

Area A seeks views on cannabis rules

The public hearing for Area A residents will go Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 5 p.m.

Trail liquor store held up Friday night

The perpetrator was brandishing a weapon that appeared to be a gun, according to the Trail RCMP

VIDEO: Amazon to split second HQ between New York, Virginia

Official decision expected later Tuesday to end competition between North American cities to win bid and its promise of 50,000 jobs

Disabled boy has ‘forgiven’ bullies who walked on him in stream, mom says

A Cape Breton teen who has cerebral palsy was told to lie in a stream as other kids walked over him

Letters shed light on state of mind of B.C. mom accused of daughter’s murder

Trial of South Surrey mother Lisa Batstone begins in BC Supreme Court

Vancouver man must pay $22,000 after breaking strata rules

Peter Gordon took his fight over his rented condo to the civil resolution tribunal, but lost

B.C. cheese linked to 5 E. coli cases

People are asked to throw out or return ‘Qualicum Spice’ cheese

Canada Post no longer guarantees delivery times amid more rotating strikes

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers closed two major processing centres in Ontario and B.C.

B.C. city councillor resigns as AutismBC director amid SOGI controversy

AutismBC president Gary Robins says Laurie Guerra’s resignation is effective Nov. 12

McGill students vote overwhelmingly to change Redmen team nickname

Student union held a referendum after a campaign by Indigenous students

B.C. university pride group replaces white supremacy posters

Around 50 people walked through downtown Victoria to share posters of love

Most Read