Big Dream a Tiny Reality

Winnipeg Minor Hockey players battling for a loose puck
Photo Credit: Joel Marcoux

It's a day that culminates an entire minor hockey career. A day where a selected 211 players from all parts of the globe take a few strides towards a lifelong dream, while the remaining players dwindle their way to beer league mediocrity.

It's the National Hockey League entry draft, held every June.

Here in Canada, where hockey takes a back seat to, well, nothing, it's only normal for hockey enthusiasts to have incessant aspirations of donning an NHL uniform and earning the big bucks.

Can we really blame them? Not really.

But at what point is it time to pack it in and realize that this caviar dream (which is essentially like winning a lottery jackpot) is a far-fetched reality?

Many players come to this realization early on, but some parents seem to have a different game plan for their little superstar.

“I think it's fair to say that some parents do have some unrealistic goals for their children, but it's certainly not all of them,” says Peter Woods, executive director of Hockey Manitoba.

“The examples of parents who put the added pressure on their kids are certainly out there," he added. "But that may be the result of the fact that the numbers indicate that one in every five to ten thousand will actually make it."

About 9,000 boys register each year in the Winnipeg Minor Hockey Association, 300 of them in AAA.

In the 2009 entry draft, for players born in 1991, only three Winnipeg-born players were selected. That's three fewer than in 2008, resulting in an average of four per year since 2000.

Based on these skimpy numbers, it's fair to suggest that making a career out of hockey is a long, grueling, and in most cases, highly unlikely process.

In fact, a study based in Ontario concluded that only one in every 6,000 draft-eligible players will actually earn an on-ice living.

So most of us will not become a household name. That's fine, but how do we break the news to some of the parents?

The Winnipeg Minor Hockey Association is working a on a new Parents Orientation Program (POP). The program, which is spearheaded by president Doug Lishka, will inform new hockey parents on these harsh realities.

“We often get phone calls from parents asking us what they could do for their kid, how could they get better,” Lishka said. “This program will enable us to communicate with the young parents and inform them that adding pressure to their children may result in them quitting hockey altogether."

Now this isn't to suggest that your son will not make it to the National Hockey League.

After all, we all have a chance of winning the lottery.

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Joel Marcoux

  • User since Oct 27th 2009, 09:38