What the heck just happened?

I have been involved with the North Peace Hockey League for almost 30 years. What happened Sept. 26 at the annual fall meeting in Fairview left me shaking my head.

To put it bluntly, it just a whole lot tougher for the High Prairie Regals to win the Campbell Cup this season.

It is so secret the power in the league resides in the west where the cities of Dawson Creek, Fort St. John and Grande Prairie ice teams. With much larger populations, there are more jobs to attract potential players. Still, the Regals and other teams soldier on to provide us with senior hockey entertainment to help make the long winter a bit shorter. We are lucky they do.

But this year, there are more east teams [Falher, Grimshaw, High Prairie and Manning] than west. Therefore, the east could have rallied around each other and passed a playoff format to their advantage.

But they didn’t. They didn’t even argue!

Last year’s format was fine. Playoffs occurred within each division until the final. As a result, High Prairie hosted the Falher Pirates three times and made nothing but money with the Sports Palace bursting at the seams.

But it not happen this year. After the first round, the winning teams cross over to the other division for semi-final play.

Let’s assume High Prairie advances to the semi-final. Instead of possibly playing Grimshaw or Falher, it might be Dawson Creek or Fort St. John. Far more expense to the Regals for the long trips, and likely less fans because Falher and Grimshaw do bring some fans to town, whereas Dawson Creek and Fort St. John bring far fewer.

Keep in mind, if it’s Grande Prairie the Regals play in the second round, the expense is less, but the Regals might also play Manning in the first round, where expenses rise.

It’s a potential major hit in the pocketbook for the Regals.

Why the Regals, Pirates, Huskies and Comets did not band together and pass a playoff format to increase their revenues and decrease expenses is perplexing.

What’s done is done. For the Regals, the road to the Campbell Cup just got a lot tougher. Let’s hope they can overcome the latest obstacle.

Let the season begin!


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