Tait: Oilers should send young players to a game — for free
Good way to celebrate 50th Quikcard Edmonton Minor Hockey Week
South East Edmonton Recreation Association Icemen Peewee AA team practice at Capilano Outdoor rink.
Photograph by: Shaughn Butts, Edmonton Journal
EDMONTON - Sometimes, you just have to ask “what if?” Just think how a great idea can impact others.
So, with that, we have an idea to share with the Edmonton Oilers. And if you look closely at the timing and a few statistics, it could be a perfect fit.
Quikcard Edmonton Minor Hockey Week starts Friday for a remarkable 50th anniversary, just two days after the National Hockey League’s board of governors voted to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement after a long work stoppage. That means the Oilers will probably be back on the ice next weekend.
Several fans and sportswriters are wondering if the Oilers will do anything special for their fans after having to put up with no pro hockey for several months.
What if the Oilers invite every player who laces them up during minor hockey week and a guest, perhaps someone who has played a major role in the player’s life, to an NHL game at Rexall Place — free of charge?
This year, about 8,500 Edmonton and area players, aged seven to 17, will participate in minor hockey week. Details of the nine-day tournament were announced Wednesday night at the Mill Woods Golf Course.
Every player participating in minor hockey week could invite a parent, grandparent, coach, manager or trainer to the game. The possibilities are endless. That’s 17,000 people to fill the stands at Rexall Place.
For years, championship games played during minor hockey week have been held at Rexall Place. Such an experience gives kids a great taste of what it’s like to play on the same ice surface as their role models, which can provide great motivation.
To see a live Oilers game could also further develop a young player’s passion to follow his hockey dreams.
It also makes good business sense for the Oilers. Kids involved in minor hockey week are tomorrow’s leaders. They will one day be the next generation of season ticket-holders — future Oilers customers.
I’m sure you’ve heard people suggest that the NHL needs to do some serious fence-mending with its fans.
Extending an olive branch to a young hockey player and a friend to attend a complimentary Oilers game might just do the trick.
The timing couldn’t be better in these parts.
It’s time to celebrate hockey in Edmonton.
Quikcard Minor Hockey Week starts Friday with 519 teams — novice through midget — playing 736 games on 32 sheets of ice in 20 arenas during the nine-day event.
The tournament is guided by 6,000 volunteers, including referees who donate an estimated $40,000 in officiating fees.
Championship finals go Jan. 19-20 — the same weekend NHL hockey returns to Edmonton.
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