The news wasn’t out of the blue for team sports such as hockey, but it was disappointing nonetheless. The suspension of all team sports was part of the latest public health orders announced by the Saskatchewan government Wednesday, taking effect Friday at 12:01 a.m.
For the Richardson Pioneer Weyburn Red Wings, this means a pause on their season which had only gotten started three weeks ago. Now, the SJHL season is on hold until 2021.
“Realistically we are looking at the January 8th weekend before we can get back at it, and that will depend on what happens over December and Christmas, what the cases are,” explained team president Brent Stephanson.
For the players on the team, this means an extended Christmas break. The league had a planned break in the middle of December until January, but now, the players will be sent home for the time being. Stephanson said the players are heading home with their equipment, with hopes they can possibly find some time to be able to at least skate on their own, whether it is at an outdoor rink, or through booking some of their own ice time. However, the rules surrounding the maximum number of people who can take part in an activity, as well as age guidelines, could make that difficult as well.
The public health measures that had been put in place for the season to be able to start – a maximum of 150 fans – had already put teams like the Red Wings into a tight spot financially. Thankfully, sponsors and supporters have stepped up to help out, allowing the team to get things started.
“Our sponsors, I can’t thank them enough,” Stephanson enthused. “They’ve been so positive.” He added a number of season ticket holders donated their season tickets as opposed to requesting a refund.
For the time being, though, the hockey seasons across the province are on hold. However, Stephanson understands why measures like this have to happen in the middle of a global pandemic.
“I look at it as short-term pain for long-term gain,” he stated. “We have to look at this seriously and we have to move forward.”