How much hockey is too much hockey?

Robin
Robin Short
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’Round these parts, here at Telegram Central, seasons are measured with the local sports.

When the Regatta boats go on “the pond,” spring has sprung.

Fall has officially arrived when the senior hockey players start working teams against each other, all in the name of scrounging every last dime they can possibly muster.

Anyway, it’s May, which usually means it’s time to break out the soccer boots or the ball glove.

Usually.

Except there’s still hockey going on. And plenty of it.

Seems to me every third or fourth minor hockey player is jetting off here or there this time of year. Youngsters today head to Halifax or Toronto like it was Gander.

And more power to them, and to their parents for coming up with the dough.

Call me a crusty, old fart, but it seems minor sports has become a tad too elite these days. Personal trainers, individualized workout regimens.

Soccer is, for all intents and purposes, a year-round sport.

On the ice, there’s private hockey, private power skating, private this, private that.

Cripes, the 10-year-olds get more icetime than Bobby Orr ever could have imagined.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that ... when you’re 14 or 15.

Nine or 10? Well, that’s another matter.

Whatever happened to the days when the Easter minor hockey tournaments meant the end of hockey season?

Back 11 years ago, when Wayne Gretzky penned a column in the fledgling National Post newspaper (ghost written by my friend, Roy MacGregor), he wrote on March 25, 2000:

“When I was growing up, I used to love this time of year. It was when I put my hockey equipment away, and I was absolutely ecstatic to see the end of hockey season.

“One of the worst things to happen to the game, in my opinion, has been year-round hockey and, in particular, summer hockey. All it does for kids, as far as I can tell, is keep them out of the sports they should be doing in warmer weather.”

Newfoundland saw seven natives sons play in the NHL this winter; four are still in the playoffs. I’m not 100 per cent certain of this, but I’m willing to bet that Ryane Clowe, Dan Cleary and Michael Ryder didn’t see a lot of springtime hockey or personal trainers as wee lads in Fermeuse, Harbour Grace or Bonavista. Likewise Adam Pardy, another Bonavista product.

Luke Adam tossed the skates aside in the spring to play baseball, a game at which he was very, very good until he began to take hockey seriously at 14 or 15.

That said, Teddy Purcell and Colin Greening skated in a couple of different hockey programs as youngsters, and it doesn’t appear to have hurt them.

So to each their own, as they say. Then again, they also sometimes say too much is like not enough.

•••

Still no word on the awarding of the 2013 world women’s hockey championship, but sources tell me St. John’s has been eliminated from the running, leaving Ottawa and Kamloops, B.C. to duke it out.

The writing was on the wall at the Telus Cup Canadian midget championship held at Mile One Centre last month. That’s where the board of directors of Hockey Canada convened, and if St. John’s was getting the worlds, the timing couldn’t have been better for an announcement.

The betting is Ottawa will land the women’s tournament.

Granted, it will be lost in the 19,000-seat Scotiabank Place, unless officials opt to stage it in the much-smaller Civic Centre, home to junior hockey’s 67s. But Ottawa is the hometown of outgoing Hockey Canada chairman of the board Ken Corbett, and Fran Rider, the long-time Ontario Women’s Hockey Association executive, pulls a lot of weight within Canadian female hockey circles.

And, you know, just out of curiosity, wondering what Hockey Canada thought of Mile One’s 80-grand bill to the local Telus Cup committee when icetime for the three previous tournaments in Levis Que., Selkirk, Man. and Arnprior, Ont. cost $10,000, $14,297 and $5,000?

•••

Toronto Maple Leafs fans, who we all know are desperate for a Stanley Cup fix, are welcomed to drop by Humphry’s on New Gower Street, across from the Delta, any time after 2 o’clock this afternoon when Dave (Snowy) Carroll breaks out his collection of highlights from the 1962, ’63, ’64 and ’67 Leafs’ Stanley Cup-winning seasons.

Humphry himself, Greg Healy, welcomes any and all Leaf-related questions from the gallery. Ask Healy, and he might show you his Bobby Baun tattoo.

Admission is $5 and all proceeds will go towards the Lilies for Lillie 2011 campaign.

Robin Short is The Telegram’s Sports Editor. He can be reached by email rshort@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Hockey Canada, National Post, NHL Telus Scotiabank Place Ontario Women Hockey Association Telus Cup committee Toronto Maple Leafs

Geographic location: Halifax, Toronto, Ottawa Bonavista Newfoundland Fermeuse Kamloops Arnprior New Gower Street

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