LETTER: Relocation of Kootenay Ice and Kootenay Wild is a loss for Nelson

From reader Bill McDonnell...

Congratulations to Nelson Star’s sports reporter, Tyler Harper, for pursuing an interview with BC Hockey, resulting in his September 2 article BC Hockey: Relocating Ice, Wild difficult decision. Although I can appreciate the challenge facing BC Hockey that the decision to relocate two major midget teams from Nelson to Trail “wasn’t easily made,” I do take issue with the process, or lack of one, by BC Hockey in relocating the teams. The “surprised” CEO stated “that he didn’t expect so much local opposition” is testimony of the importance of such programs to a community and the apparent distance from BC Hockey. Over the years, invitations to BC Hockey officials by Nelson management to witness the programs’ operation were never realized.

Further, CEO Barry Petrachenko states that “BC Hockey heard no proposals compelling enough to keep the teams in Nelson.” As a member of the committee formed to improve the MML programs, I am compelled to review the events leading to their decision.

In December 2015, during a discussion of the Male program, a BC Hockey official stated that he was very pleased with the Nelson site which had created stability for the program. It is my understanding that the Female program was given similar assurance.

Immediately following the end of the 2015-16 Male MML season, a committee of West Kootenay minor hockey associations was created to assist with the improvement of the MML programs. The committee formulated a list of guidelines and shared them with BC Hockey, resulting in a meeting. Unaware to committee members, a separate Trail proposal was presented to relocate the teams. As no proposals were requested by BC Hockey, this meeting was awkward to say the least, if not inappropriate.

Should BC Hockey not have requested proposals from all interested host communities?

I want to impress on BC Hockey how this process/decision has affected people in Nelson who have invested many hours into the MML Kootenay programs. It is a matter of community pride and personal respect.

On a personal note, much gratitude to all the coaches, managers and trainers who spent countless hours to provide an opportunity for hundreds of our local players to participate in the MML. Local people such as head coaches: Auerback and Postnikoff of Castlegar, Hargreaves, DiBella, Wheeldon, Petrick, Wright and Jones of Nelson has exhibited exemplarly commitment and service some of whom coached in both the Female and Male programs. Considering the geography challenges of travelling from the Kootenays to ten teams throughout the north, Vancouver Island, Vancouver, Fraser Valley, and the Okanagan, you can appreciate the amount of time spent with their young athletes. Mix in practice times, the gravity of such a time commitment, deserves our total respect.

Bill McDonnell

Nelson

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