Nanaimo Clippers players Jordan Naylor, left, and Trevor LeDonne drop off letters at the office of Nanaimo MLA Sheila Malcolmson, asking for her support as the team asks for reconsideration of provincial health orders banning 19-20-year-olds from practising and playing sports. (Photo submitted)

Nanaimo Clippers players Jordan Naylor, left, and Trevor LeDonne drop off letters at the office of Nanaimo MLA Sheila Malcolmson, asking for her support as the team asks for reconsideration of provincial health orders banning 19-20-year-olds from practising and playing sports. (Photo submitted)

Junior hockey team in B.C. pleads for an opportunity to play during pandemic

Nanaimo Clippers’ owner questions science behind public health orders

With more and more of the hockey season slipping away, at least one junior A team in B.C. is pleading with public health officials for a chance to play.

Junior hockey is on hold as current COVID-19 health and safety guidelines prevent adults from practising and playing games. The B.C. Hockey League recently announced that it won’t start the season until sometime in the new year, and is investigating the option of playing the season in a ‘bubble’ in a host city, possibly Penticton.

In the meantime, the Nanaimo Clippers are appealing to politicians and public health officials to reconsider or adjust guidelines to accommodate junior hockey.

Clippers owner Wes Mussio pointed to the team’s 18-game exhibition season this past fall, which he said was safe and socially distanced and resulted in no COVID-19 exposure.

“Yet Dr. Bonnie Henry decided to shut us down on no evidence or science,” Mussio said in a press release. “Simply put, this decision is hard to understand.”

He added that players’ aspirations of moving on to college and pro hockey are being “severely compromised” and that the outlook is bleak for players in their final year of junior eligibility.

“I doubt anyone can argue, in good conscience, that destroying careers of young [athletes] is perfectly acceptable for the greater good,” Mussio said.

Darren Naylor, coach and general manager of the Clippers, agreed that the “lockdowns” on sports are “catastrophic” to athletes. He said junior hockey shouldn’t have the same pandemic restrictions as men’s league hockey, for example.

“We are a very professional, high-level training program where the players act like pros and do not run around going to parties and bars socializing,” Naylor said in the release. “They’re very committed and realize minimizing exposure to the public is the safest way to ensure a season.”

The Clippers shared copies of letters sent by No. 1 goalie Jordan Naylor and veteran defenceman Trevor LeDonne to Nanaimo MLA Sheila Malcolmson, pleading for her help in asking for reconsideration of the provincial health order banning adults from team sport participation.

“Without being able to practise or compete and prove myself deserving of a scholarship, I feel my dream slipping away,” Jordan Naylor wrote. “As a 20-year-old, I have no more time. It’s now or never for me.”

story continues below

Mussio also wrote to Malcolmson requesting her support in reconsideration of that particular public health order, as well as asking for financial support from the province. He said in the release that the hockey club is losing “hundreds of thousands of dollars this year” and predicts junior A hockey franchises will fold in 2021.

He added that smaller communities like Nanaimo are harmed without the “joy” that hockey games bring.

“I’ve heard from many hockey fans that coming to a Clippers game is the highlight of their week and without hockey, their mental health is declining,” Mussio said. “I don’t blame them because this is our national sport and not being able to enjoy it is a tremendous sacrifice.”

READ ALSO: BCHL postpones regular season until new year



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

BCHLCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health has declared the Cariboo Chilcotin a community cluster. (Angie Mindus photo)
Interior Health declares Cariboo Chilcotin region a COVID-19 cluster, 215 cases since Jan. 1

Most cases are related to transmission at social events and gatherings in Williams Lake

The City of Williams Lake is awaiting the arrival of seven terrain park features typically found at ski hills to create more winter recreational opportunities in Boitanio Park. (Arena Snowparks Instagram)
City shows cool side with winter, Boitanio rail park

“We’re just waiting for their arrival and a little more snow,” Atkinson said.

Williams Lake First Nation Chief Willie Sellars provides a community COVID-19 update from his home Wednesday, Jan. 20. (Williams Lake First Nation Facebook image)
WLFN chief reports 11 members fully recovered from COVID-19

23 active cases remains, says Chief Willie Sellars

A vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is displayed on Jan. 5, in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Rick Bowmer/AP)
Power outage spoils COVID-19 vaccine at Tl’etinqox

Temperature-sensitive vaccine no longer viable after Jan. 18 event

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Vernon's Noric House long-term care facility is dealing with an influenza outbreak amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo)
Two more deaths at Vernon care home

Noric House case numbers remain steady, but death toll rises

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Most Read