EDMONTON WORLD CUP OF HOCKEY, BEFORE YOU PLAY – A MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR OF PLAYER SAFETY

We are just days away from returning to the Ice and all playing the sport that we love. With that in mind I will need to go over some specifics when it comes to Arenas and COVID protocols as well as a couple rule adjustments.

All City of Edmonton Arenas Rules

With Arenas in Edmonton here are the key things regarding COVID protocols that are in place;

Arrive at the arena no sooner than 15 mins before your scheduled Ice Time. Ideally come as dressed as possible or change in the parking lots. 15 mins before your ice time you will have a dressing room so you can put on your skates and store personal items.

Bring your own water as sinks/fountains will be restricted

There will be no use of Showers at any of the Arenas and you must leave the arena 15 mins after your ice time is completed

There is limited # of spectators at Arenas

*Please respect and follow all signage, Floor markings or social distancing measures to ensure we protect one another*

Rule Adjustments for World Cup of Hockey

We will follow all rules of the NCHL except for;

There will be no jersey infractions but players must have a similar color with its own unique number

There will be no playoff Eligibility. All players that are registered with your team and have completed the NCHL waiver as well as COVID waiver are eligible for ALL games.

No players are to approach or go near the scorekeeper. We must ensure social distancing is adhered to. If you have a sub from your cohort or a jersey # change please approach a referee and advise them of this.

You can play the game if you don’t have a goalie. If your goalie is injured or does not show and you have enough players (6) you can play the full game. Just know that if you can not field the proper number of players due to penalties or ejections the game will end in a forfeit

At the discretion of the team GMs and in fairness of fun, YOU can swap players mid game. This means that if you are short players, or the game is uneven, you can swap individual players or even Goalies to ensure the game is fun and can be completed. If this does happen your players will still be credited playing for your team as well as the team they swap too and all stats will be counted

There will be no re-alignment. Due to COVID restrictions we must play within the same Cohort for all 5 games. If your team truly feels they cant compete, speak to the other teams GM about swapping players and/or bring out Subs from the other teams in your cohort to compete.

-Player penalty minutes. If a player receives a total of 10 PIM they will be suspended 2 games. If a player exceeds 14 PIM they will be suspended indefinitely. As normal Summer season is 15 games, player PIMS are 30 PIM = 2 game suspension and 40 PIM = Indefinite suspension, we adjusted these numbers by 1/3 to fit the 5 games. Team total PIMS is set at 50 PIM. If your team exceeds 50 PIM your team will be suspended for the remainder of the World Cup of Hockey and no refund will be given.

The last 2 games of the World Cup of Hockey will follow Playoff rules of the NCHL

ALL teams will be limited to 13 Players and 1 Goalie during any game. If you have more than 13 Players, any extras players will not be permitted to play and will be asked to leave.

Reminder that Teams must only have 10 players and 1 goalie on their official roster. Any extra players are Subs from the same Cohort.

Please remind your players to complete all waivers and please submit your rosters ASAP. Failure to do so will result in your team not being allowed to play. These waivers and rosters are crucial in the NCHL abiding by AHS health protocols and for Trace Tracking in the off chance a COVID positive case comes forward. Please respect this and have it completed.

Thank you and Welcome back to the World Cup of Hockey!

Mike Calhoun

NCHL Director of Player Safety

DRAFTING THE BEST WINTER SCHEDULE FOR YOUR HOCKEY TEAM THE EASY WAY

You want choice. Who doesn’t? This is why we let you choose your own winter hockey schedule that is best for your team. In the next 5 minutes or so we will explain how the schedule draft works.

Not be confused, we assume that you have done the following (otherwise what we tell you next won’t make any sense)

Ok now that we got this out of the way, lets get into the meat and potatoes of the schedule draft.

Sometime in August, after we closed team registration we will look at the list of all teams that signed up, and build what is called the deposit order. It is simply the ordering of teams by when they have paid their required deposit based on the schedule plan chosen. The sooner you paid it, the higher you are on the list.

The deposit is comprised of money paid by players plus any additional credits the team may have (keep) on account from previous seasons, minus anything outstanding (owed by the team).

Now, a team may have enough money in credits on account at the time of registration that cover the needed deposit amount. We will take the timestamp of when the team registered as the time of deposit. (PRO TIP: this is a very good reason why you may want to keep money on account between seasons)

Why is this important? We use the deposit order to determine how teams pick their schedules for the winter. The team with the very first overall deposit will have a chance to select first out of all of the ice times we have available, continue reading to see how it all works.

At the same time as our accounting department is building the deposit order, our ops department is working hard on compiling all suitable ice times that can be selected as home ice.

A few days before the draft we will send this ice matrix to all team GMs who have selected Home Ice Premium or Home Ice schedule plans. This is done so that you can rank each ice time based on how much you like it.

After you received the ice matrix and have ranked all your choices based on how much you like them you are ready for the draft.

Typically the draft happens in a room (ok a bar) with all ice times displayed on the big screen for everyone there to see. All team GMs are invited to this event regardless of the schedule plan you picked, and you will see in a moment why. Now days, we may have to do the draft virtually via zoom or some other means to minimize exposure.

The schedule draft starts with the very first team in the deposit order list, regardless of the schedule plan chosen. They paid their money the quickest and so they get the first dibs on choosing what to do with their draft position. This is the only way we can make the process fair for everyone given the limited amount of good winter ice times available.

If the team at the top of the order did not choose Home Ice Premium schedule plan, we will ask them if they want to upgrade to Home Ice Premium on the spot, so they can make a selection. (but in reality there is almost no intensive to be first in the deposit order with a Regular schedule plan, unless it was a mistake).

Home Ice Premium teams get the best available ice times, so if the team in question does not upgrade, we will move on to the next team in the deposit order, and the next team will now have a chance to pick their schedule for the winter.

We continue this process until all Home Ice Premium teams have chosen their ice slots, skipping any non Home Ice Premium teams in the deposit order (remember, each team that did not choose Home Ice Premium but is high in the deposit order will have a chance to upgrade to grab that ice time they really want).

Next we go back to the remaining Home Ice teams starting at the top of the deposit order again. We repeat the process we followed with Home Ice Premium teams only now for the Home Ice teams, until all these teams have made their selections.

Yes, if you were late with your deposit and do not see anything on the board you think is worth the money you can downgrade on the spot as well to a cheaper schedule plan and save some money. But you can’t downgrade after the draft is finished. See why below.

Once the draft is finished for teams that wanted a home ice type schedule (home ice means 50% or more of the games will be played at the same time, on the same night at the same arena), we will set the divisions for the season. All teams now will be placed in divisions. This will determine what Regular schedules are available for remaining non home ice teams to choose from.

Effectively it will limit the Regular teams to 3-4 schedules in their division. Once again we will go back to the deposit order to see who will select first in their division. Not all Regular schedules are made equal, so being higher on the deposit order still makes sense!

As soon as we have placed all the teams in divisions and have all schedule selections returned to us from the Regular teams we can build the master hockey schedule.

This is why we have to close team registration about 30 days before the start of the hockey season. We need enough time to do the work on the master schedule, catch mistakes and fix unexpected problems so that we can release the schedule for everyone at the same time.

So if having the best schedule for your team is important, register and pay your deposit as quickly as you can. You will have the most choice if you are first.

Playing Winter Ice Hockey In A COVID World – Registration Information For Edmonton Teams (AKA – The Plan)

As far as plans go, someone once said everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face (Ok it was Mike Tyson and we are paraphrasing). Mike did get one thing right, with all this uncertainty surrounding us during the great calamity called COVID-19, how can one plan anything right now? Yet we somehow have to proceed with life and hockey.

While no one knows what will happen in the future, we are operating under the assumption that hockey will be back to some kind of normal without the draconian restrictions placed on it by the vagaries of the pandemic.

Other jurisdictions do not have cohort requirements right now, in Manitoba players can play on as many hockey teams as they want and there is no limitation on team sizes as a result. The same is true in some places in BC (we heard through the hockey grapevine that in Victoria people have been playing beer league hockey for the past 6 weeks without cohort restrictions – could be just a rumor though).

So the trend seems to be moving in the right direction in regards to what winter may look like. And thus we have decided to offer a regular winter hockey season to all our teams that will include:

  • Choose Your Schedule Option (only in the NCHL)
  • The NCHL Experience – playing hockey in a safe, fun, competitive and well organized environment
  • 30 Regular Season Games
  • 1 Guaranteed Playoff Game (every team makes the playoffs)
  • Best of 3 finals (way more games for your team)
  • 3 stop time periods, 15 minutes each
  • 2 Referees and 1 Scorekeeper at Each Game (or you get a team credit)
  • Online Stats For All Teams and Players
  • Individual Payments for Players (only in the NCHL)
  • Payment Options – one, two or monthly
  • Season Start – After September 1st, 2020
  • Season End – Before April 30th, 2021

See full season details …

“But you just said no one can tell the future, so how can you offer this and be sure it will actually happen?” you may be wondering, and rightly so. This is our plan for winter. If for whatever reason we are not able to offer you hockey in this manner come winter, we will need to adjust so we can still play. It will come down playing hockey vs not playing hockey, and we think playing hockey is always the better choice.

So here is our promise to you, if we are not able to offer the season as outlined above, and have to adjust or cancel hockey all together you will always have the option to either get a refund for the remaining games you did not get, or keep the team fees as a credit until hockey returns.

We will work with each and every team to make sure we take care of you and the wishes of your players. The same way we did this past winter season when it was abruptly cancelled, and the summer season that never happened. All teams that wanted a refund for games not played have been taken care of.

THE IMPORTANT STUFF

Today we are releasing the season and pricing information for winter. Some plans stayed the same, while others had to be adjusted a little due to increased costs from arenas. Ice costs did go up in some places, because the arenas must now sanitize surfaces more often, purchase additional PPE and have more staff.

Here is the link to Edmonton Winter Team Fees and all available schedule plans. This year we are again offering 4 schedule options, Home Ice Premium (you get to draft your schedule ahead of everyone based on the order of your deposit), Home Ice (half the games same rink, same day and same time), Regular (choose your schedule) and Budget (do everything on your own to collect team fees, the cheapest league hockey option in Calgary but you don’t get to choose the schedule you get).

Registration will open on Tuesday July 7th, at noon MST. Pre-registered teams will have until Thursday July, 8th at noon MST to complete the registration and join the Winter 2020-21 NCHL-Edmonton Hockey Season. We strongly encourage you to provide us with a deposit at the time of registration or instructing us to apply any unused team credits on account towards your deposit. Teams that have enough credit on account are assumed to have their deposit fully paid at the time of registration.

See important deadlines here …

If you pre-registered your team earlier when we did not know which way was up, thank you for your support! That means you now have a 48 hour advantage over any other team that did not do so, and you can complete your registration ahead of these teams. Why is this important?

Teams that want to get the best possible ice times we can offer for winter (we picked up a few good ones this year) need to be at the top of the deposit order because this order determines the selection of your schedule in the schedule draft. Teams that chose Home Ice Premium option will be choosing first in the draft ahead of any other team that chose a different schedule option but we will be looking at the deposit order as well.

For example, if the first overall team in the deposit order bought Home Ice or Regular as their schedule option, it will be given a chance to upgrade to Home Ice Premium on the spot and will then be able to choose the best ice time for them, out of all available ice times or not.

If an upgrade is not selected by this team, we will go through all of the Home Ice Premium teams first so they can select their schedules, and then come back to Home Ice teams, the team that has the highest placement in the deposit order at that point will choose first, and we will continue this process until all Home Ice teams chose their schedule for the season. After that teams that bought a Regular schedule will choose their schedule in the same manner.

That being said, you get the most choice with Home Ice Premium, then with Home Ice and finally the least amount of choice is available to the teams who bought the Regular schedule option. Finally the Budget teams do not get a choice, and are simply assigned a schedule for the season. What does this mean for you?

If choice is important to you, buy Home Ice Premium and get your deposit in as quickly as you can. If you buy Home Ice, you will need to wait until teams with Home Ice Premium schedule packages have chosen their ice times.

Otherwise, if you do not care about what you get so much, and want to save money please choose the Regular schedule, because what may happen is this. Teams with either of the home ice schedule options may end up in your division, and if you are the only Regular team in that division, you will not have a choice but play on the home ice chosen by these teams. It could be good, it could be bad, so you are taking a gamble.

Oh and one more thing, we can only physically accommodate half the league for Home Ice Premium or Home Ice, because in order for us to guarantee at least half the games at the same rink, at the same time on the same day, the cut off is 50% of teams. It makes perfect sense if you think about it. So if this is important to you, please do not wait, complete your registration ASAP and put your deposit down (it is $1500 for either of the home ice options). Once we sell out, all we will be able to offer is what is left.

The NCHL – A Better Way To Play!

Playing Recreational Ice Hockey In A New World – Alberta COVID-19 Stage 2 Rules and Regulations Interpreted

On Tuesday June 9th, 2020 Premier Kenny announced that Alberta will effectively enter Stage 2 of the relaunch strategy as of Friday June 12th, 2020. Luckily for us, hockey nuts, arenas were moved from Stage 3 into Stage 2 of the relaunch and can open on Friday. Don’t get us wrong, this is great news, we will finally be able to play hockey soon(ish). That is the good news.

Now, what is the actual reality of the situation? Things are little bit more nuanced than the initial headlines would suggest. Most, if not all arenas in the province will not reopen on Friday and here is why.

The province published a very detailed list of regulations outlining how hockey arenas, and organizers must manage playing hockey during Stage 2 of the relaunch. Obviously it would be really hard for players and officials to social distance on the ice, and maintain a 2 meter distance from each other, it would be impossible to wear masks during play. The new regulations do not recommend players wearing masks during the game. (we had a pretty good chuckle about masks in pools part of the regulations published)

Anyone who says otherwise, simply did not read the regulations, and listen to the answers by Dr. Hinshaw at the announcement on Tuesday.

To address this reality, the new rules allow for bubble cohorts, or as the regulations call them, mini-leagues of 50 people, who are participating in hockey. Once a player is assigned to their bubble cohort they are not allowed to belong to another cohort all together.

We can guess the rationale for this is that by being confined to your bubble cohort of players, the spread will be limited in nature as opposed to the situation where players are allowed to intermingle with other players from a different bubble cohort. Also should there occur an infection within a cohort it would be easier to trace its origin and nip the outbreak in the bud. All reasonable.

This presents a unique set of challenges we must address as a league. 50 people in a cohort means officials too, who are not allowed to be part of a different bubble cohort once they are assigned to one. As you can see, this now limits the number of players you can have on your team, and also the number of teams we can have in a cohort. Anyone who says otherwise, simply did not read the regulations, and listen to the answers by Dr. Hinshaw at the announcement on Tuesday.

The reason why almost no ice hockey arenas will open this Friday is simple. Most if not all rinks in Alberta took their ice out when they realized that there is a real possibility of a prolonged lock-down back in April.

4 teams per bubble cohort seems to make the most sense to us, three does not work so well with needing to have a bye week, two is not enough competition, and lets not even consider one team as an option.

With 4 teams in the cohort, each team can have at most 12 players, but in reality is more like 11 (including a goalie) because there needs to be room for officials and in order to have 2 officials on the ice, we would need to have 4 in the cohort to make sure we staff the games properly and have enough of a buffer should an official become unavailable for a game.

There are many other details in the regulations we must deal with before safely returning to play. Your health and safety and the health and safety of our officials (referees and scorekeepers), our staff, facility staff, as well as anyone else that will be taking part in our offerings is paramount.

No one knows the future and we don’t pretend to either …

In our view, proceeding slower is better than rushing into things without considering all that is required, and while we want to get on the ice as quickly as possible, we need to do this safely, so that we don’t contribute to the spread of COVID. At the end of the day we all want to be playing hockey this winter, and it is the last thing we’d want to see, AHS shutting down arenas again. There is no need to get into the impacts of that outcome, but kids would be devastated if they could not play hockey come winter.

The reason why almost no ice hockey arenas will open this Friday is simple. Most if not all rinks in Alberta took their ice out when they realized that there is a real possibility of a prolonged lock-down, back in April. Why keep the ice in when no one is using it, it just cost money (electricity is not free) especially as the days get warmer. So they took their ice out. Smart.

It will take arena operators a bit of time to put the ice back in, some of the challenges we are hearing about, are with equipment and supplies needed as everyone rushes to reopen. Things like pressure washers, ice paint and a multitude of other things you need to reopen. On top of this, there are new regulations for arenas from AHS as well, in regards to what they must do as facility operators to reopen safely. It would suffice to say they will need boatloads of hand sanitizer and PPE. All this takes time.

At the end of the day we all want to be playing hockey this winter, and it is the last thing we’d want to see, AHS shutting down arenas again.

Another thing facility managers must consider are the user groups and bookings in light of the new regulations. Will the bookings needs to be more spaced out between each other? What is a realistic start date after you take into account the challenges of putting the ice back in, and how much time each user group will need to get organized before they can start offering their programs? All these are questions that must be answered now, and it will take time to put the plans together and in motion, so that arenas can reopen safely.

Based on our discussions with arena operators it is a bit of a mixed bag, some are going to open mid July (15-20), while others may not open this summer at all, and be prepared to go in the fall. Even the City of Calgary is not exactly clear on when they will be reopening arenas under their management. City of Edmonton is not taking any bookings until June 30th, and may not take any after.

Yes, things are not as simple as pie when it comes to the realities of what we have to deal with, but we are working very hard on offering a condensed summer season which may look something like this (please do not hold us to it until we announce the details and open registration but this is what it looks like for now).

World Cup style, round robin (3 games), semis and final

5 game season

4 teams per bubble cohort

11 players per team (10 skaters and 1 goalie)

Will start mid July and will go to the end of August

We still have some details to sort out but we hope we have everything ready to go for the summer season by the end of the week. We have existing contracts with arenas that we signed before COVID hit everyone, and have the first right of refusal on ice when arenas reopen. Some arenas may not reopen or may reopen too close to the end of summer, we need to understand these realities and finalize our summer ice bookings before we can open registration for teams. Our staff is in constant communications with arenas.

It would be pointless to take your money so that 5 minutes later we have to turn around and refund it. Instead we want to crystallize all details first so that everyone knows what to expect and what is possible, then open registration. In our opinion this would be the smart way to go about in an uncertain situation.

As far as the winter season goes, we are also working on season details, we hope that by then we will be out of Stage 2, and play can resume as before (no, or little restrictions in place). No one knows the future and we don’t pretend to either, this is why we decided to offer a shorter summer season, and re-evaluate things for September. We are planning to have a regular season then, but if things do not work as we think they will, we will adjust to the environment we are in. Shorter season is also safer for you the player.

Information about Winter 2020-21 Season will be coming out next week. Teams that have pre-registered will have a 48 hour window to complete registration and set up their deposits to secure their place for the ice draft (we picked up some pretty awesome ice times for winter).

This is all that we know for now. We will share more as details emerge.

Stay healthy, and safe! We’ll see you on the ice soon.

The NCHL – A Better Way To Play!

Return To Hockey Could Happen This Summer In Alberta – New COVID Regulations Released By The Province

Yesterday Alberta Premier, Jason Kenney announced that Stage 2 of the relaunch strategy will start on Friday, June 12th. The Premier also announced that organized sports and hockey rinks are now included in Stage 2 with restrictions.

This is great news! It means that we may be able to have hockey this summer after all. Hockey with restrictions is better than no hockey, any day of the week!

Some of the regulations announced by health authorities talk about set cohorts of 50 people where social distancing is not possible. Hockey falls into this category. The regulations say that these cohorts (mini-leagues) must stay together for the duration of the organized spots activity during Stage 2(read season).

We are still digesting all of the regulations put forward by the government yesterday (there are many, you can see what they are yourself here) so we can find a sustainable path forward to offer hockey to you and your teammates in a safe environment.

The health, safety and well being of our players and league officials is our number one priority.

We must be able to minimize the risk to everyone, if we can not play hockey safely within regulations provided by the government, we would rather not have hockey at all until it is safe to play (as much as it would pain us).

As we write this message to you, we are working as quickly as we can with our facility partners to put a plan in place for both the Winter Season, and possibly a version of a Summer Season starting as soon as there is ice to skate on.

Most if not all arenas took their ice out for summer once it became clear that a lock-down will be in place for an unforeseeable amount of time.

It will take arenas some time to get organized, put their ice back in and make sure facility and staff are compliant with new regulations put forward by the health authorities. We all want the same thing, return of play in a safe environment.

Once there is a plan that addresses all of the new regulations in place, we will be sending out another message announcing the details, so please stay tuned to your email and our social media.

The good news is, somehow, someway hockey will be back!

We look forward to getting back on the ice as soon as we can!

The NCHL – A Better Way To Play!