Charlottetown Islanders seek new billet families for new season

The Charlottetown Islanders are looking for some new billet families to provide homes for new players, but with some changes in effect for the upcoming season.

Questions remain about what this hockey season will look like for P.E.I. players

The Charlottetown Islanders, seen here at a March game before the COVID-19 pandemic, is looking for new families to sign up for the billet program for the upcoming season. (Charlottetown Islanders/Facebook)

The Charlottetown Islanders are looking for some new billet families to provide homes for new players, but with some changes in effect for the upcoming season.

New procedures have been brought in this year in accordance with COVID-19 health regulations, to ensure players and their billet families are kept safe.

"The team will be providing the player [with] masks for any time he's travelling to and from the rink," says Troy MacKenzie, billet co-ordinater for the Charlottetown Islanders.

"The team provides all transportation for the players, so the family doesn't have to drive them anywhere, but when he's driving in a car with other players, they're all required to wear masks, and there's hand sanitizers for the vehicles."

Advice for families taking a player in would be the same as with their own family, MacKenzie said.

"Players, they're all going be monitored, their temperature checked every day, they'll have questionnaires that they'll have to fill out daily about how they're feeling and if there's any signs. The same as the billet families will be," he said.

"They're going to great lengths to try to make sure that everybody is as safe as can be."

The Islanders are looking for about seven families to sign up to the billet program, MacKenzie said, adding that there is a small stipend for families taking a player into their homes, but "it's not a money-making venture by any stretch of the imagination."

We're not quite sure how it's going to look.— Troy MacKenzie

MacKenzie said he's also trying to keep the players centrally located, to make it easier to trace who they come in contact with.

"I'm trying to keep them in the Charlottetown, Stratford, North River, Cornwall area. My hope is to keep the bubble as small as I can — the least amount of travel and trying to keep them closer to other guys so you know who they're contacting," he said.

Meanwhile, it's unclear what the 2020-21 hockey season will look like for P.E.I.

"We're not quite sure how it's going to look," MacKenzie said, adding there are talks ongoing about TV rights to ensure as many people are able to watch games as possible when not able to attend an arena game.

The league has been working with health authorities on P.E.I., as well as the other Atlantic provinces, to figure out the best way forward.

"They've got about a 50-page document that's out now with different protocols for teams, players, billets — everything is kind of going by the health department's guidelines," MacKenzie said.

MacKenzie said anyone interested in learning more about being the billet program and providing a family environment for an Islander player can get in touch with the league.

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