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In Canada, Hockey Struggles to Return Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

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In British Columbia, Coach Steve Gainey of the Kamloops Storm, a lower-tier junior team, has noticed the effect of new guidelines directing officials, who are masked, to maintain a safe distance from players. “They’re not allowed to engage to separate players, if there’s anything that materializes after a whistle,” he said. “So they’re calling roughing and things like that far more aggressively around the net.”

Amid all the uncertainty, Alain Gaul, a Montreal lawyer, has been finding positives where he can. His son Simon is a 16-year-old right winger for the Gaulois de Saint-Hyacinthe Midget AAA team who has been drafted by Voltigeurs de Drummondville of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Strange as this stalled season has been, Alain Gaul said, it has allowed to coaches to work on developing skills.

“They work a lot,” he said. “They’re not allowed to play games, but they practice. Since September, they’ve been working a lot on individual skills — skating, shooting, the things that in a real season, where they play 40 to 60 games, they don’t have time concentrate on in such detail.”

“We get excited about hockey in this country, still — sometimes too excited,” Campbell-Pascall said. “With things so different this year, it just becomes a lot more about development. And, to me, it should always be about development.”

David Clark ended up hoarse last week from directing traffic on the ice. He’s the recreation coordinator for the hamlet of Rankin Inlet in the northern territory Nunavut, and the man behind the community’s annual hockey camp that opens the local minor-league season for some 200 children, ages 3 to 18.

Though Nunavut has, to date, recorded no coronavirus cases, there are limits on spectators and other precautions in place. In September, Clark traveled south to Wilcox, Saskatchewan, to drop his 15-year-old son off at Athol Murray College of Notre Dame, a boarding school renowned for its hockey program. Before Clark could return home, he was required to quarantine for two weeks in a Winnipeg hotel.

“We’re doing everything we can to keep things safe,” he said. “We still have no Covid, but that could also change any day.

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