Hockey Calgary is proposing to change boundaries in the city, which could see hundreds of minor hockey players switch teams, and balance out precious ice time for practices.
The group, which oversees 15,000 registered players, proposed Friday to merge smaller associations to give their players the same access to ice time as players in larger ones.
"The primary motivation, however, has to do with providing every child in the city of Calgary who plays hockey an equitable opportunity to develop their skills, and the current system doesn't provide that privilege to each and every one of our paid memberships," said Perry Cavanagh, president of Hockey Calgary.
The plan would see Blackfoot and Seven Clubs associations joined, and Glenlake and Elbow Park merged into another, bringing the total number of associations to 16 from the current 18.
The redistribution would force one in every 15 players to play for a new team, but may even out the ice time that players get in a city with a chronic shortage of rinks.
"We certainly can't pick up the rinks and move them to the communities, so we have no choice but to move the community, so to speak, in terms of player draw zones to those particular facilities," Cavanagh said.
He said a minor hockey player in Calgary manages to get about one practice for every game, when the standard recommended by Hockey Canada is three practices for every match.
Chronic rink shortage in Calgary
"I think it's a fantastic move," said Teresa Lesyk, whose 14-year-old son plays minor hockey. "I think it's needed in order to keep all the associations competitive."
A recent city study said Calgary is short at least 15 ice sheets, even with new rinks under construction.
'So even though it's necessary, I think it is going to be tough on some of the kids and some of the parents, too, because you develop friendships and camaraderie over the years.' — Gayle Krystofiak, parent
"A lot of communities just don't get the ice that they need for the amount of the kids in the program," said Gayle Krystofiak, whose son plays bantam hockey for the Springbank Spartans.
She supports the change even though some of her son's teammates could be playing for other teams next year.
"I do think it's going to be hard for some kids though who've played their whole hockey career so far with one community and all of a sudden have to leave," she said. "So even though it's necessary, I think it is going to be tough on some of the kids and some of the parents, too, because you develop friendships and camaraderie over the years."
Parents and players have until April 20 to give their opinion to Hockey Calgary's boundary review committee; the governing body will vote on the proposal at a special meeting April 30.