'Bigger things' than hockey, Sask. GM says as coronavirus concerns cancel minor hockey across Canada
'It's all about their safety and health,' Sask. Hockey Association general manager Kelly McClintock says
All minor hockey across Canada has been cancelled for the rest of the season because of the coronavirus pandemic, officials say.
Hockey Canada cancelled all of its sanctioned activities across the country effective Friday until further notice.
"This wasn't something that we wanted to do," said Saskatchewan Hockey Association general manager Kelly McClintock.
"[We didn't] want to take the game away from young boys and girls who are playing. It's all about their safety and health, and let's all do our part in preventing the spread of this virus."
McClintock said the association has had phone conferences with Hockey Canada on a daily basis as the situation has evolved and changed over the past weeks.
He said a number of provincial health ministries had called for hockey to be shut down and municipalities have been closing arenas.
"We had to make a decision right across the country so that it was applicable to everybody," he said.
Everything from Junior A hockey down has been cancelled.
"I would say the majority of people are very understanding," McClintock said. "But there is the odd person who thinks we're crazy."
But he said hockey needs to take a backseat when it comes to this pandemic.
"I love hockey. It's what I do for work. It provides my family with a living. But you have to remember it's just a game as well, and there's bigger things that are more important than hockey."
The Saskatchewan Hockey Association had a number of camps planned for April, which involved about 500 boys and girls. They have also been cancelled.
"We've got to do some new planning now and have a number of different plans depending on how long this goes," McClintock said.
One of the major events cancelled is the Esso Cup national female midget hockey championships that were to be held April 19 to 25 in Prince Albert.
It was to be hosted by the Prince Albert Northern Bears. The team has spent the last couple of years preparing for the event.
Bears president Laura Quesnel said in an email they stand behind the decision even though it is devastating for the players and staff.
"The result of this news also brought on a lot of emotions, disappointments and heartbreak for all involved," Quesnel said. "Especially our team of girls who looked so forward to this once in a lifetime opportunity to host and participate in the Esso Cup national championship tournament."
Here are the ways how some other sports organizations are dealing with the threat of COVID-19:
The Western Hockey League has suspended its season until further notice.
That means no games for the Regina Pats, Saskatoon Blades, Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos.
"We will continue to monitor ongoing public health developments regarding COVID-19," WHL commissioner Ron Robison said in a statement. "Our goal is to return to play when it is safe and reasonable to do so."
The National Lacrosse League has suspended its season until further notice, which means no more Saskatchewan Rush games in the near future.
The Saskatoon Youth Soccer Inc. (SYS) has cancelled this weekend's Xtratime Sports Soccer Locker Mini SISCO Tournament.
The tournament is the end of the indoor season and was to involve 1,300 athletes, from ages four to nine.
SYS executive director Amanda Probe said they are awaiting further direction from the Canada Soccer.
Probe said Canada Soccer is holding meetings with provincial associations today concerning COVID-19 and she expects further guidance to come out of those talks.
The indoor youth soccer season is over but zones are gearing up for the outdoor season, with player evaluations scheduled for this weekend.
"I believe one of our zones has cancelled their player evaluations, but the other four zones are still going on as scheduled as far as I know right now."
"[The Saskatchewan Soccer Association is] closely monitoring the situation and we're keeping in close contact with them as the situation develops."
The SK Summer Soccer Series between the SK Selects and FC Edmonton on March 28 and 29 has been cancelled.
The Kinsmen Indoor Games, which were to be held this weekend at the Field House in Saskatoon, have been cancelled.
The CFL cancelled plans for regional scouting combines in Montreal March 13 and in Edmonton March 20. It has also cancelled the CFL Combine in Toronto March 26 to 28.
In a statement the CFL said it remains "very hopeful that circumstances will allow us to resume our normal activities soon and well in advance of our regular season, which is scheduled to open June 11."
Sask Volleyball has suspended all activities until further notice, including the Sask Cups for this weekend.
The cancelled events include club tournaments, club practices and coaching workshops.
The organization said will review whether future Sask Cups or provincial championships will be held.
Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) commissioner Mike Morreale said the league is monitoring the situation.
The CEBL, which includes the Saskatchewan Rattlers, isn't scheduled to begin its season until May.
"We don't have any events planned, we don't have any games, and no players in town until closer to the end of April," Morreale said.
He said the league is taking advice from government agencies and will follow their recommendations.