There will be a lot of hard questions asked in Junior A hockey circles in 2014. Not just in Trail, which is having a terrible season on all fronts, but across the BCHL.
Apparently few, if any, teams in the best A league in Canada are operating at a profit and expenses are not decreasing for anybody in the group.
This wasn’t supposed to happen. A decade or so ago the, “big,” teams revamped the league and hired, “professional business people,” to run things, thereby, the argument went, ensuring prosperity for at least almost everybody.
What has happened, or so the bits of news and masses of rumours indicate, is that the world has changed.
Businesses in some places have less interest in sponsoring junior A hockey - either moving up to more elite levels of sports or cutting back entirely on sports sponsorship.
Young people, needed, especially in Trail, to replace the aging local fan populace that has so-far buttressed the bottom lines of junior A clubs, have opted for gazing at screens over spectating at games.
It is very obvious in Trail. Like the town, the hockey crowd has seen its average age rise over the past few years and unlike the trend in the general populace, where available long term employment has stunted, if not reversed, the aging trend, there is little indication that will change the attendance dynamic.
Crassly put, that means when a longtime Smokie supporter can no longer attend games, for health or other reasons, no new attendee steps up and the attendance stat drops by one, or whatever, number permanently.
It seems the same dynamic is playing out across the league and, “What is to be done,?” is the current trending poser for the BCHL’s movers and shakers.
Sad, but if true, there will be a big shakeup coming along fairly soon.
• As to the current Smokies - they got within a minute and a half of a two goal victory against a contender, but could not handle the pace of decision-making required in the end to secure it. Very entertaining game even if it resulted in one more in a long recent line of unsatisfactory endings.
Decent turn out for the combination game and fund raiser. Too bad many won’t be back for many more games. Perhaps holding on for a win would have helped, but even the top teams in the league, which win a lot, are having trouble with their budgets.
Game tonight. All things being equal, I will be there. Despite the end results, most nights at the rink are affordable, interesting and entertaining.
•Just want to give a shout to everybody who did anything at all to dress/light up the town for the holidays. Much appreciated.
Even a single light string adds pleasure to the season for many. I get that there are reasons many no longer decorate. Thanks to those that do - it brings a positive feel to a dead of winter season.