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Cornered Coach: Doug Gilmour's Great Idea


The Killer has a plan.

Doug Gilmour is a retired hockey hall of famer who now runs the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League. Gilmour, however, still has a son playing minor hockey in Toronto and has a lot of sympathy for parents struggling to keep their kids on the ice.

 "The cost of the game effects a lot of people," Gilmour told the Toronto Sun this week. "There's nothing worse than seeing a kid make a team but can't afford to play on it."

Gilmour's comments were in connection to a Toronto city budget hike that calls for an increase of just over seven per cent to the cost of minor hockey teams renting ice time; a cost, of course, that will have to be picked up primarily by minor hockey moms and dads. 

But to combat the rising price tag of minor hockey, Gilmour has come up with a unique idea. The former Toronto Maple Leafs captain says a special fund should be set up to help defray the cost, especially for families who are struggling financially. 

Contributing to the fund?

Gilmour points to Hockey Canada, the various levels of government, and corporations that include the hockey equipment business. A great idea, but I'd like to see another group tossed into the mix—billionaire NHL owners and the millionaire NHL players who benefit from minor hockey in helping to realize their big league dream. A number of NHL teams already contribute to the cause, with the Maple Leafs stepping up to the plate to help spruce up a number of local rinks in the Toronto area. Players, meanwhile, such as Toronto's P.K. Subban, also do some great work at the grass roots level. Subban, for example, is the public face for "Hyundai Hockey Helpers", a program that helps parents pay for expensive registration fees and equipment.

But with the NHL constantly bragging about growing revenues, it's obvious the owners and players could do more.

Another idea?

Going back in time and getting in touch with Mother Nature.

Many of us old hockey dogs grew up not just playing shinny on outdoor ice, but holding many of our games and practices on outdoor rinks as well. I can still remember all the parents standing on snow banks, shivering in the cold while they cheered us on. A lot of modern kids can't believe there was a time when outdoor rinks were part of the regular minor hockey schedule. But the truth is, until I was 12 years old, most of our games and practices were staged outside; a much cheaper alternative to expensive indoor facilities.

Sure, it wasn't always a ton of fun. In fact, I recall playing a "Tiny Mite" game in a raging blizzard so thick that you couldn't even see the other end of the rink.

But, hey! Canadians are supposed to be able to tough out a long, cold winter.

And along with Doug Gilmour's great idea, heading outdoors might be another way to cope with some of the tough money issues facing minor hockey.

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