An Ottawa-area parent tells MHL about frustration with the way house league requires a financial and time commitment akin to Triple-A.
WITH THE INVESTMENT OF TIME AND MONEY for my kids to play hockey, I would not have been able to play in my day. My family didn’t have a car—I took the bus to games and practices and a few parents and the coach drove us to and from games—and we didn’t have the money for out-of-town tournaments either.
I have two boys and have little to no family time when both of us (and sibling) can watch one of our son’s games together.
We didn’t sign up for this. Not every parent and player wants hockey to be a stepping stone to the National Hockey League. But that’s not how house league is set up today. Away games keep us busy for an average of 2½ to 3 hours and can take up to five hours with travel time, game time, and before/after change (30 minutes pre-game, 15 minutes post-game). The longer the season goes on, the more frustrated I get.
This is not A, AA, or AAA. This is not Rep B. This is house league.
The system is set-up with levels feeding from one to the next, so that along with the A levels, we also have Rep B, so that a call-up is available when a player is injured, or not available to play. The kids already have limited ice time with three forward lines and three sets of D.
My two sons play house league, so that they can do other things. They don’t want to do off-ice training, they want to have fun, and participate in activities outside of hockey. They want time to snowboard, to hang out with their friends. As parents, we do not want to spend our time driving them to/from rinks, or spend $1200–$1800 per season ($400-600 per tournament), per kid, for out of town tournaments. It’s ridiculous.
The son of a friend of mine who lives in Montreal plays Saturdays and has an optional practice during the week.
We also have spring/summer four-on-four league and there’s a waiting list! They roll the lines on the buzzer (every 90 seconds), so there’s no stoppage of play. It is twenty minutes of running time. And the parents are not allowed to coach! They are there to simply open the gate. The kids love it!
It is once a week!
I have spent time talking to other parents, and I’ve written to our local hockey association (who has not bothered to respond), and Hockey Canada, but I haven’t seen much in the way of action. It doesn’t seem like things will change any time soon.
I played AA minor hockey, then Junior B, then Major A. And in any league, I never played as much as these kids do today.
Editor’s note: Read Ken Campbell’s view of house league published in “ The Hockey News”: http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/48611-Why-house-league-hockey-is-an-attractive-option.html