Hockey coaches and managers. Unfortunately, the situation with sports leagues and the need for social distancing has not improved since my first note a few days ago. Just last night, I wrote an email talking about how we’re only going to cancel the preseason games and that we’re still going to try to get the season off the ground. I wanted a couple extra eyes to read it before I sent it, but as of today, everything changed.
At this point, everyone knows about the “shelter in place” order that takes us through April 7. I’m not a politician or a health care professional, but I do respect the what our government is trying to do to protect us. To add further complications, Dublin Iceland notified me that the rink will be closing tonight at midnight through that same April 7 date. I want you all to know that I had some crazy plans to squeeze the season into two weekends and make a go of it. I’m still going to try to do that, but with all schools moving to online learning across the East Bay and some schools canceling all Spring sports, I honestly don’t see how we salvage this.
Before anyone suggests just canceling a week or two at a time, please understand that by doing so, all the games would become scrimmages since there would be no way to balance the season fairly for an eventual playoff. One team might get six games and another might get three games. One team might play only the top teams and another might get an easy schedule. There would simply be no fair way to do it. The complexity in scheduling with the six weeks we initially had was incredibly hard, but this would be impossible to keep things fair. As most of you already know, the USAH National Championships have already been canceled outright and all NORCAL hockey playoffs have been postponed until at least April (sadly, that would create even more conflicts than we already had).
I’m going to work directly with the TV Board and this group to see if we can at least get a couple of “Senior Games” where we can get the graduating seniors out in their school uniforms for a couple scrimmages (with referees) so they can have one final chance to show off their skills before heading off into the sunset. I have no details on that, but know that if it comes to it, that’s what I am going to try to do. If all of this is cleared up on April 7 and schools are still willing to participate, we’re also going to see if we can do a Jamboree-style elimination tournament one weekend. It won’t be “a season”, but it could add a little excitement and give us all the option of having a few games to end this on a good note. As you can imagine, such a format would have an entirely new cost and game structure, so there’s no sense trying to keep the league going in its current format. Assuming things clear up after April 7 and there’s still interest from the teams, I’ll work with the Board to see what we can do and give all teams the option of giving it another go.
I’ve heard from a number of players and families over the past few days that they didn’t know about my first note. PLEASE be sure to forward this to all players and families so they know the situation. I don’t want any of this to be a surprise and I want everyone to know exactly where we stand. I have already talked with the Board and refunds are being authorized as we speak. Assume that you will be refunded the full season dues by the first couple weeks in April. They will go back to the same credit card you used to pay.
I want everyone to know that I’ve been coaching hockey for close to 15 years and have been helping out with this league for the last few years and this is easily the hardest decision I’ve had to make with the support of the TV Board. It pains me to take away such a hockey gift, but we simply have no choice anymore. Sadly, all I’d be doing by delaying the full cancellation of the season would be postponing the inevitable. That’s just not fair to anyone.
First and foremost, stay healthy. That’s the most important thing. Beyond that, let’s stick together as a hockey community and if the opportunity arises where we can get a Senior Game or a Jamboree-style elimination tournament, you should all know that I will do whatever is humanly possible to make it happen. Anyone who knows me knows that is a true statement. Again, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news when all we wanted was a little good news these days.