Hockey is alive and well in Hants County despite the Jr. B hockey team taking a leave of absence this year.
While they feel it's 'unfortunate' that the Windsor Royals won't ice a team for the 2012-13 season, local politicians say there's still plenty of hockey action for fans to take in.
“People may look at it: the Birthplace of Hockey and the Junior B team is not going to be playing next year. But, there's still lots of hockey in the area at various levels and so on,” said Windsor Mayor Paul Beazley in a phone interview July 10.
On July 7, the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League's board of governors granted the leave of absence requested by the majority of the Windsor Royals Hockey Club 2010 Society executive. Four of the original 11 executive members were opposed to the proposed hiatus and had fought to keep the franchise functioning.
“I don't know all of the details to the ruling... so assuming it's fairly straight forward — it's a one-year leave of absence — my comment would be it's unfortunate that after 47 years of Windsor Royals history within the town that it's been felt that this leave of absence is required. Certainly, I would have preferred to have seen a 48th year of Windsor Royals hockey in the Town of Windsor,” said Beazley.
There have been several reasons cited for the leave of absence, with the main ones being turmoil within the executive, a communication breakdown with the coaching staff and the desire to develop more local hockey players.
“They're a separate society and they're a separate entity unto themselves. It's unfortunate they've decided to take this leave of absence but we're still the Birthplace of Hockey. There's no doubt about it,” said Beazley.
Hants West MLA Chuck Porter said he hasn't heard much from community members in terms of the Royals hiatus, but did say the situation was unfortunate.
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“Not knowing a lot of the details, obviously there must be some issues within that they're trying to work through,” said Porter in a phone interview July 12.
The Tory MLA is a supporter of local hockey and could often be seen rink side during the Royals' Friday night games.
“I don't know a lot of details but it's really unfortunate that we have to miss a year and I'm hoping that it won't be hard to rebuild and get going and to pick up where we left off,” said Porter. “We've had a lot of success with Jr. B hockey over the years in the Town of Windsor and I look forward to that success coming back.”
While the area's rich hockey heritage involves more than just the Jr. B team, Porter said it's never good to hear of issues arising within the local hockey world.
“We do claim to be the Birthplace of Hockey and the last thing we want to have is hockey issues in the town. We are the home of hockey.”
West Hants Warden Richard Dauphinee said he's been following the Royals story in the paper and said the situation is 'a shame'.
“I don't want to certainly go against the executive in any way but I certainly feel that Windsor claiming to be the Birthplace of Hockey, I think it is sad that we don't even have a hockey team here such as the class of the Windsor Royals,” he said July 10.
“They did a good job, seemed to attract quite a following and have done well. I feel bad that it couldn't continue and had to take a year off.”
All of the politicians interviewed agreed they hope the leave of absence is only temporary.
“If it has to take the year off, I hope that it is only one year and they're back at it but it might be hard. Once you lose fans, it might be hard to get them back,” said Dauphinee.