Anyone who says the rejected bid for re-entry into the North Peace Hockey League means senior hockey is dead in High Prairie is wrong.
Seven decades of history indicates otherwise on more than one occasion.
In the interest of disclosure, I have been statistician for the NPHL since 1990-91 (one year off) and it is no secret I am an NPHL fan. If you choose to ignore the long history of senior hockey in the Peace that is your choice.
The fact is, many teams have come and gone. There has not been a single team in this league which began in 1953-54 that has played each season. At one point, each has left the league only to later return except for the Hines Creek Oilers (four years) and Rycroft Flames (one year).
And when teams have returned and made a run and won a title, the arenas were packed. If a good product is offered, people in the Peace will support senior hockey. No doubt about it.
So what happened with the Regals’ bid to rejoin the league Sept. 9 in Fairview? It was almost the perfect storm of events and was doomed to fail. We all know the tragic losses in coach Jimmy McLean’s life the last few months. He can be forgiven if any attention to a prospective bid to rejoin the NPHL did not consume the majority of his time.
The problem is, no one stepped forward to promote or prepare a bid in the scant three weeks left when the team met. The Regals missed the spring deadline months ago for re-entry but it did not mean the possibility of rejoining the was over. Granted, it became a lot tougher but a very good bid still had a chance.
However, the bid prepared did not stand a chance. It did not fulfill the criteria the NPHL wanted. Former president Jack McAvoy has left us and the new executive has a new way of doing business and it is not wrong. Neither was McAvoy’s, it is just that things have changed. Each organization changes over time, and compared to 10 years ago more than three-quarters of the faces at the NPHL board of governors meeting have changed. New people means new ideas and a new way of doing business.
NPHL president Michael Mercredi says the following.
“All teams at the table want the Regals in, but they want them to be in for years to come,” says Mercredi.”
The bid did no guarantee that would occur.
Mercredi and myself will work with the Regals to prepare a bid next spring.
“The league will work with the High Prairie Regals group and ensure everything is in place for the 2024-25 season,” says Mercredi.
“If that means coming over to meet with all the stakeholders and community groups I will,” he adds.
If the Regals proceed as expected, a community meeting will be called in the future when Mercredi will attend. It is a crucial meeting. At that time, there absolutely has to be a show of community support to show High Prairie wants the return of senior hockey.
The bottom line is the recent bid failed because the work was not done by the former executive or by any new people stepping forward to revive the club. The Regals will not play again in the NPHL until a committed group of people steps forward. Every successful team in the history of this league has thrived first and foremost because of a strong executive.
High Prairie is a great hockey town. I believe the best in the Peace. A fan base and business community very willing to support a good product if one is put on the ice.
“I know the town (High Prairie) can rally behind the Regals and this time next year senior hockey will be on the air and ready for a successful season for years to come,” says Mercredi.
The future will write the next chapter.
by Chris Clegg