Parents of players in the Scarborough Hockey Association are fighting for the survival of a league that has a dwindling number of new players.
If things do not turn around soon, young men and women may be forced to join a league with games farther away from home.
Canada may be a nation of people who eat, sleep and breathe hockey, but that unwavering love for the game does not exist in Scarborough.
Hockey is a serious investment. It costs both time and money for families who wish to have one child play, let alone two or more. The majority of new families in Scarborough are immigrants who have not been exposed to hockey in countries such as Sri Lanka, Pakistan, or even China in the same way those born in Canada have been. For these families, hockey is just one luxury they cannot afford.
The SHA is going to have to find a new way of marketing the sport of hockey to a community and demographic that would rather kick around a soccer ball than strap on a pair of skates. What they have is a PR problem. And the city’s lack of recreational funding isn’t helping. Neither are the Leafs, whose record makes you want to cheer for the Generals at a Globetrotter game.
Where are the outdoor rinks? Where are the backyard rinks? Where are the programs in the schools to support interest in what is consider to be Canada’s sport? If a child does not have a place to learn how to skate, it is obvious they will show no interest in a sport that requires them to do so. Walking and running are skills we come by naturally, but skating is a talent that must be learned.
Kevin Weekes is the last player from Scarborough to have played in the NHL, although most people don’t know it. Since he has retired, there is no one else Scarborough kids can identitfy with.
If the sport were affordable and relatable, then the interest would be there. You cannot blame a community for its lack of interest in hockey if no one on the rink resembles them. Plus, the Leafs tend to be winners when it comes to losing. You can’t blame new immigrants for not buying expensive tickets to watch the Leafs skate into a lucky win.
Kevin Weekes is NOT the last player from Scarborough to have played in the NHL.
Chris Stewart of the Avs and Wayne Simmonds of the Kings are two notable NHL players from Scarborough.