St. Paul Minor Hockey Upset over Ice Time Bumps

St. Paul Minor Hockey, represented by Tanya Fontaine, addressed Council regarding ice time changes. The organization wanted to know why preference on ice time at the Clancy Richard Arena was given to the Jr. B St. Paul Canadiens. Minor Hockey has been required to rearrange games and practices, or move to the CAP arena to make room for the Jr. B team; especially during the Jr. B playoff run. Fontaine argued that the Jr. B club is a four percent user group of the facility and should not be given “first right of refusal” over ice time.

At no time, has St. Paul Minor Hockey been at odds with the Jr. B Canadiens. The purpose of attending the Council meeting was discuss a decision that was made to move one of our ice slots without us being consulted. In this case, for this one ice time, it was between Minor Hockey & the Jr. B. There is not an issue between St. Paul Minor Hockey & Jr. B Canadiens, we work together. -Bryce Balmer President St. Paul Minor Hockey

Mayor of St. Paul, Glenn Andersen says this time of year, it’s just what happens, “they rely on the gate to fund the team. They work a casino, have sponsorship on the boards, and gate proceeds to fund the team. They do not receive any funding from the Town.” Mayor Andersen explains that the Jr. B Canadiens need the fans in the stands to keep the team going and without those gate proceeds there wouldn’t be enough funding to keep the team alive.

Fontaine explained Minor Hockey understands why this is happened, but does not agree with it. “It’s a trickle effect, when you move one team, the next team has to be bumped or a practice moved, and it’s a lot.” Specifically, this upcoming weekend, the Jr. B team is in the first round of the playoffs and there was rescheduling and a lot of rearranging done to make room for the Jr. B games. Minor Hockey is in playoffs, as well as, and felt displaced due to the changes. The Jr. B took the 8:00 pm slot at the Clancy Richard and because the ice at the CAP is full every Friday night, it was more challenging to rearrange the schedule.

The Jr. B to maximize attendance wanted the optimal Friday at 8:00 pm slot. At the time, the slot was full and the ice scheduler gave other options to the hockey club. However, the Jr. B went to Council to secure that slot. Ultimately, the Jr. B were given the time slot, and Minor Hockey would like to know, from Council, why they were not consulted prior to the decision being made. Typically, this type of decision would be made outside of Council, between Minor Hockey and the Jr. Bs. Mayor Glenn Andersen noted that this was “the first time” Council was ever brought in to solve an ice scheduling issue.

The Jr. B is given the regular season schedule at the start of the season and the ice scheduler, Director of Parks & Recreation for the Town of St. Paul, Gary Ward, can then schedule around to ensure the Jr. Bs have ice time at the Clancy Richard. There is a goal to give the Jr Bs optimal ice time that’ll attract the most fans, such as Friday nights at 8:00 pm or Sunday at 2:00 pm. When it comes to playoff season, the Jr. B works with each team in the league to determine player availability and optimal ice time. So often, the ice scheduler has to move minor hockey or figure skating times around to accommodate the Jr. B.

Mayor Andersen was sympathetic to Minor Hockey, “I went through it too, for 12 years, when I was involved in Minor Hockey, it was the same thing. We were always getting bumped or moved to the CAP.” The Mayor explained the CAP was built by Minor Hockey so there was ice available when situations like this arose. The CAP arena does not have the crowd availability for the Jr B, but works well for Minor Hockey.

It’s not abnormal this time of year. At the beginning of playoffs it’s chaos, then teams fall out and it gets better – Glenn Andersen Mayor of St. Paul

There are some circumstances where the Jr. Bs cannot bump ice time, such as when there’s a league tournament, Provincial tournament, or a special event night. Fontaine express a lot of concern that the Jr. Bs would bump their event, Timbits Hockey Night. The evening serves to showcase Timbits hockey, as well as, honour the Midget players who are retiring from St. Paul Minor Hockey. Mayor Andersen urged Minor Hockey to let the ice scheduler know of this evening in advance so he’s aware they cannot be bumped.

For a long time the Jr B Canadiens weren’t doing well, they weren’t winning and the fans weren’t there. They worked hard to build up their team, they’re third in the league and now they’ve gained back their fan base. -Glenn Andersen Mayor of St. Paul

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Harvey Filger recommended Council draft a policy regarding Jr. B ice and what conditions are required for ice time to be moved, bumped, or cancelled. Mayor Andersen invited Minor Hockey to participate in the discussions, as well as, make recommendations to the policy. This policy will not be ready for the 2016 season, but should be in place for the 2016-17 season.

*in an earlier version Fontaine was represented to be the Treasurer of Minor Hockey. That was out-dated information. Fontaine had served as Treasurer in the past and according to the Minor Hockey website, Fontaine is the Registar.