The Date is August 3rd, 2020 And You Can No Longer Register Your Hockey Team For Winter In Edmonton

Stanley Cup in October? How about them apples. No one would have predicted this at the start of the NHL season last year. But yet here we are, strange times indeed.

Everyone has had to adjust to the new realities, and we are no different. Ideally we would have opened registration on May 1st, which is what we usually do, but at that time we literally had no understanding of what hockey may look like in the winter.

Our understanding is a little better now, though there is plenty of uncertainty still. We are planning to start the winter season on time, the week of September 1st.

What does this mean?

We need about 30 days before the start of the season to prepare for the launch, this includes making up the divisions (it takes a while to get all teams to submit their skill survey so we can place them in the best possible division), finalizing the ice times for the season (we need to know how many teams will play so we can match the booked ice times for the season to the number of teams playing) and all other related tasks.

Once we have all this information we can prepare the schedule draft ice matrix to share with the team GMs. And finally we’ll hold the schedule draft and build the schedule. (if you want to know about how the schedule draft works, contact us).

Based on these timelines we have to cut off team registration on August 3rd, 2020.

Sure, we are aware of the potential futility of all this (regulations could change again) but we think things are moving in the right direction, and other jurisdictions do not have cohort restrictions in place right now.

Either way, if we are not able to start the season the way we normally do we will take care of all our teams and players, much like we did when we had to abruptly and prematurely finish last winter hockey season and cancel the summer hockey season all together.

There are three possible outcomes for this winter hockey season. We are readying contingency plans to address two of them, but essentially they are either the season goes ahead as planned, season needs to be modified because there are new regulations and restrictions placed on us, or the season is cancelled.

If the season is modified or cancelled, and we are not able to deliver the league experience to you as we are planning, we will offer teams the option to play the modified season under the new regulations or receive a full refund.

If the season is cancelled we will refund all registration fees (you will have the option to keep it as credit on account if you wish). In other words your money is safe with us, we guarantee it.

If your team is registered already, awesome, thank you for being on top of it!

And if you still need to register, please do so now. Why? Because right now monthly payments are interest free for your players on most plans.

Links to Pages You Want To Read

The NCHL – A Better Way To Play!

P.S.

If you are a player, please bug your team GM to register your team so you can set yourself up for winter. Otherwise see how you can become a FreeAgent and still have a team to play for this winter.

The Date is August 3rd, 2020 And You Can No Longer Register Your Hockey Team For Winter In Calgary

Stanley Cup in October? How about them apples. No one would have predicted this at the start of the NHL season last year. But yet here we are, strange times indeed.

Everyone has had to adjust to the new realities, and we are no different. Ideally we would have opened registration on May 1st, which is what we usually do, but at that time we literally had no understanding of what hockey may look like in the winter.

Our understanding is a little better now, though there is plenty of uncertainty still. We are planning to start the winter season on time, the week of September 1st.

What does this mean?

We need about 30 days before the start of the season to prepare for the launch, this includes making up the divisions (it takes a while to get all teams to submit their skill survey so we can place them in the best possible division), finalizing the ice times for the season (we need to know how many teams will play so we can match the booked ice times for the season to the number of teams playing) and all other related tasks.

Once we have all this information we can prepare the schedule draft ice matrix to share with the team GMs. And finally we’ll hold the schedule draft and build the schedule. (if you want to know about how the schedule draft works, contact us).

Based on these timelines we have to cut off team registration on August 3rd, 2020.

Sure, we are aware of the potential futility of all this (regulations could change again) but we think things are moving in the right direction, and other jurisdictions do not have cohort restrictions in place right now.

Either way, if we are not able to start the season the way we normally do we will take care of all our teams and players, much like we did when we had to abruptly and prematurely finish last winter hockey season and cancel the summer hockey season all together.

There are three possible outcomes for this winter hockey season. We are readying contingency plans to address two of them, but essentially they are either the season goes ahead as planned, season needs to be modified because there are new regulations and restrictions placed on us, or the season is cancelled.

If the season is modified or cancelled, and we are not able to deliver the league experience to you as we are planning, we will offer teams the option to play the modified season under the new regulations or receive a full refund.

If the season is cancelled we will refund all registration fees (you will have the option to keep it as credit on account if you wish). In other words your money is safe with us, we guarantee it.

If your team is registered already, awesome, thank you for being on top of it!

And if you still need to register, please do so now. Why? Because right now monthly payments are interest free for your players on most plans.

Links to Pages You Want To Read

The NCHL – A Better Way To Play!

P.S.

If you are a player, please bug your team GM to register your team so you can set yourself up for winter. Otherwise see how you can become a FreeAgent and still have a team to play for this winter.

Playing Winter Ice Hockey In A COVID World – Registration Information For Calgary 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 Calgary 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 Monday July 6th, at noon MST. Pre-registered teams will have until Wednesday July, 8th at noon MST to complete the registration and join the Winter 2020-21 NCHL-Calgary 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!

A Word About Cohorts, Schedules and Spares – Playing Rec Ice Hockey Is A New (Ball)Game Now

There is plenty of confusion about what the new regulations mean for recreational, and for some (ok most?), beer league hockey. Things have changed and the ground (ice) shifted under our feet.

With the arrival of COVID-19 and the ensuing lock-downs no one was sure when ice hockey will be back. We have now been given a second chance to get back out there. But it comes with a cost.

The virus is still with us and the pandemic is not over. If you listen to Dr. Hinshaw’s weekly briefings we can not let our guard down just because restrictions are loosening.

We get all that, and we know you do as well. Hockey is allowed to be played, with restrictions. The kind that no one even thought about before all this happened.

But we can play! Yes it is not an ideal situation, and it requires us to adjust everything we have done before when playing hockey. Is it worth it? That would be up to each and one of you reading this to decide.

For some people this will be a deal breaker, as they will wait to see what happens after hockey resumes. For others, they can’t wait to get back out there. For us, we fall somewhere in the middle, we can’t wait to be out there and want to play, but we do not want to take a step back and face new restrictions.

The schedule is essentially unknowable before everyone registers to play

This is why we all must abide by the new regulations and continue to do our part, the good news we are now allowed to play! That was not an apparent outcome in April when the world was ending.

The question is, how much do you want to be playing and will you accept the costs associated with it? Ask yourself how you feel when you get out on the ice, and the world and its worries melt away for the next hour and a bit. How will you feel when the NHL is in full Stanley Cup Playoffs swing this August and teams are going for the cup (talk about how weird things have gotten …)? Will you need to scratch that itch?

If the answer is no, we understand, it is a personal decision for each individual. But if the answer is yes, we are doing everything we can to return to play, safely. So lets talk about the realities of playing hockey in the COVID world.

Schedules

Arenas are scrambling, all at once, to put back the ice they have taken out back in April. This takes time and equipment, we have written about this recently here. As we are working very hard to nail down the start of the season dates, all indications point to the week of July 20th as the start of the season, which at this point is about a month away. This is not a lot of time to get organized, and here is why.

We need to know how many teams will be playing in this abbreviated World Cup of Hockey season so that we can set the cohorts correctly in the beginning. With each passing day we have less time to do this. Until we know what cohorts we will have (we want to wait as long as possible before building the cohorts so we can improve the parity of each for the duration of the season) we can’t make the schedule.

The schedule is essentially unknowable before everyone registers to play (teams). This is by the way how it works for any other season and the reason why have to cut off registration a month before the start of a “normal” non COVID season.

This being said, once we know what teams will be playing and what cohorts we can build, we will set the schedule for the whole season (5 games) and it will not change (no realignment is allowed). You will have schedule certainty after we make and publish it.

Cohorts

As we said before we want to wait as long as possible (and it is not long, probably a week or so) to figure out what we have for teams. Once we have that information we can set up the cohorts. This is where you as the team GM will need to submit a roster of your 11 players, a roster that will not change for the duration of the season (sorry, Stage 2 rules).

Our goal is to make the cohorts as close in skill level as possible so that the games are competitive, and there is decent parity. There will be no realignment of teams during the abbreviated summer hockey season, World Cup style.

So we think it is absolutely key to get this as right as possible, but our hands our tied (severely) by the new regulations. Please forgive us in advance if we make mistakes or unable to have sufficient parity in your cohort.

There are some possible solutions to the parity problem of each cohort. Our plan is to place teams with known history, teams that have played against one another, into the same cohort. When this is not possible we will try to determine with the help of your team GM where the team should be placed.

Another possible solution is placing two known teams in a cohort with the idea that they can split into two (have two teams of 11 players), thus filling the cohort. This solves two potential problems, one is parity. Since the two teams will average out to the skill level of the cohort it most likely will result in a better parity.

The second, is if your team has too many players who want to play but there is a cap of 11 for the season, it may be worthwhile to add 6 or so more players to your regular roster of 16 and make two teams of 11 for the summer. Why not? This way you don’t have to say no to everyone who wants to play and will be affected negatively by the cap.

What’s more, is there is no rule preventing players in the same cohort to play on all teams in the cohorts. There is also no rule that dictates how many players can play in a single game. So some players can play on two teams in the cohort (the games will be back to back but you get more hockey) and it opens up more space for other people who want to play. The key is we have to stay under the cap of 50, how we do it is up to you as the team, and us as the league.

Spares

By now you are probably thinking, what happens, given these limitations, if our goalie is not able to make a game. Are we screwed? No, there are options.

If you find yourself with a less than reliable tender (just kidding, we know goalies, for the most part, are the most reliable members of the team!) or a situation arises when the goalie simply can’t be there see the following.

Option one, there are two other teams in the cohort that have goalies you can call upon ,and since the games will be back to back you should be able to secure at least one tender (they will have to be at their own game, right?).

There will be no conflicts for that goalie to be able to play for your team (if you are a goalie, please consider saying yes all the time to any team that is in a bind, we are all in this together and no one wants to play with 6 skaters and an empty net).

Option two, consider recruiting at least one player who can also go in net for there could be a time you will need this. If this is not possible, you can always dress a regular player in goalie gear to make it work. Won’t be pretty, but it will have to do! Also, we have set aside 2 spots in the cohort as buffer for this type of situation, and you can try to get a goalie that way (emergency situations only).

Option three – the last resort. We changed our rules, your team can now play with 6 skaters the whole game, no goalie needed. This won’t be as much fun, but at least you can get the game in and be out there. COVID times call for COVID measures.

Other spares will come from the other 3 teams in the cohort because only the members of the same cohort can play against each other while not having to social distance (physically distance if you prefer). Your team would have an advantage if it split in two, you will already know one third of all available spares. This should make it easy to make sure you have enough to play with.

If this does not work, you will have access to other team GMs in your cohort to ask for help in case you need that 6th-7th player to make a game out of it.

By the way the jersey infraction rule is now suspended, you just need to have each player (spare or otherwise) wear a unique jersey number, color (should be white or dark depending on who you are playing), logos, none of it matters. COVID times.

The NCHL – A Better Way To Play!