I have been involved as a volunteer with Minnesota Hockey for many years now, including the past 4 years as president. In my role, I’ve met and become friends with others involved in hockey across the country.
Over time, I couldn’t help but notice how different hockey is managed in other areas of the United States. In most states, hockey is a club sport. It’s commonly played in private arenas. There’s often more time spent in the car (or a plane) than there is on the actual ice. And it’s VERY expensive.
We are so fortunate that things are different here. Not only is our game played in a non-profit community-based model, but it’s also played in publicly owned rinks. We have great players and great competition in every corner of our state. And while hockey in Minnesota can get expensive as the kids get older and commit more time to the game, it is a small fraction of what it costs to play elsewhere.
Not only do we have these advantages, but the community-based model also brings the most players into the game and it produces by far the most high-end players every year. I am always amazed when I see the number of Minnesotans in the NHL or on Division I men’s and women’s hockey teams. We continually lead the country and set records, which we should be proud of. This past year, Minnesota set the single-season record for the most players from any state to play in the NHL (67!) and had the most Division I men’s (223) and women’s (221) players of any state.
To me, that shows how much families across the state want to be a part of this amazing sport in this amazing model. More and more children are joining their friends and classmates on the ice, and that just makes me smile to think about the joy and laughter they are experiencing together on the ice. I am confident that it will be our best season ever. We continue to have the best volunteers, the best coaches and the best officials.
Let’s keep hockey in Minnesota the best.
How can we do that? And how can we be even better? We always want to keep improving.
Let’s start by being mindful of how we are treating each other at the rink. We have to put the respect of opponents and officials at the top of the list. Please remember that officials are humans and are the reason our players are able to experience the fun of games. Keep in mind that coaches and volunteers are taking time out of their schedules to mold and shape our children as players and people. And most importantly, let the kids have fun. This is THEIR game, and sometimes, as adults, our best intentions can get in the way. If we let them figure things out and enjoy being on the ice, hockey will give them what they need.
Lastly, I challenge everyone to invite a new family into the game. Hockey can be an intimidating sport to try for those who haven’t experienced it. So, extend a hand to someone new and invite them into the rink. Let’s welcome people from all backgrounds to be a part of Minnesota Hockey!
HAVE A GREAT 2023-2024 HOCKEY SEASON!
President Minnesota Hockey