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

Just Posted

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

The Eyes of the Tigers on the 2021 Beer Run on June 19. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton Beer Runners take trip around local beaches and brews

Over 160 people signed up to come back after the 2020 run was cancelled

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

JAK's Liquor Store in Penticton will be donating 10 per cent of its sales on Saturday, June 19, to the Penticton Salvation Army Food Bank. (Photo from JAKS.com)
Stock up your liquor cabinet and support the Penticton food bank

Jak’s beer and wine store is donating a portion of sales to local food banks Saturday

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control in Electoral Area D starting next year

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read