Dreger Café: Smith on immediate future of minor hockey, what this year's WJC may look like
TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger has relocated the Dreger Cafe from the World Hockey Championship to his home to bring you the latest from some of the game's prominent personalities.
In the fifth at-home edition of 'Dreger Cafe,' Darren goes one-on-one with Hockey Canada COO Scott Smith.
Here are three key topics from their discussion:
On what a return to play might look like when it’s safe to do so:
First and foremost we’ll only do so when the relevant health authority tells us that it’s ok. What we think will happen is that those health authorities will provide guidance to what size of gatherings may exist and that will dictate what we will be able to do. We’ve got a coaching task team that’s done a tremendous amount of work, they’ll follow the direction of the health and safety protocols that we’ve put in place, they’ll provide options for instruction on the ice that could look very different. It could be as small as one coach and 2-3 players to provide appropriate opportunity for social distancing. And that could grow over time as the health authorities provide a greater number to gather.
On a potential NHL return’s influence on minor and junior hockey in Canada:
All of us are hockey fans and are looking for an opportunity to cheer on our favourite players and our favourite teams. I think it will provide an opportunity to get families excited about the game, and hopefully encourage their participation when families are ready to do so and facilities are able to have them. It will help us as well to monitor their approach.\
On what a non-traditional World Juniors or Women's World Championship could look like:
[Playing without fans] could be one of our options. First and foremost this will be an IIHF decision. We host it but it's their event. They're very interested in hosting both of these events in a traditional manner. We could move it to a smaller venue where we would host it without fans and manage all 10 teams under one roof and really create our own version of a bubble. We could also, depending on direction from the health authority, look at spacing out and meeting the social distancing requirements in Red Deer and Edmonton and run a modified attendance. There is some talk that we could possibly look at it at a later date during the season but that probably becomes a little bit problematic with our great partner the Canadian Hockey League.
On his message to young hockey players and hockey parents eager to get back on the ice:
First and foremost, understand that we want to be playing hockey too. I’m a hockey dad and our family wants hockey on the ice when it’s appropriate. But only do so when the appropriate health authority tells us it’s safe to do so. And do so under the direction of the health authority, and recognize hockey might look a little bit different. It might not be traditional games or traditional structured league play. But getting back on the ice for development opportunities I think will be a good transition phase.