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12 Takes with Dave Anthony

Well… this sucks.

Watching other provinces make trades, skate and prep for games, it’s hard not to feel like the runt of the litter in this province.

The league did everything it could. Coaches, players, volunteers… everyone did EVERYTHING they could. It wasn’t good enough, apparently.

Now, we have to sit back and hear about how provinces are going above and beyond to get programs back up and running… while we just wait and hope for the fall of 2021.

It’s done. Nothing we can do about it now. It’s hard but we got to try and move on. It’s not fair and it’s frustrating. It’s okay to be upset. It’s okay to talk about it.

With that being said, the Takes today have to do with emotions.

  1. Happy.

I saw a trade where the Winkler Flyers moved a couple players, so they’d get a chance to play. I’ve heard from other teams and they too will be allowing players to go elsewhere for the remainder of the season and then have them come back.

That makes me happy. Kids getting to go play hockey, laugh and smile with teammates and have new hockey experiences.

  1. Angry.

Getting moved elsewhere not an option for all the players from this AND LAST YEAR!

20-year-olds last year had it taken away. 19-year-olds last year had it taken away and were told by the graduating players to win it for them in 2020-2021. For most, that can’t happen now.

The season was lost last year, and it cost the 20-year-olds their final season. With the province not lightening restrictions, it’s cost the 19-year-olds their second to last year AND their last year.

They wanted to play and win for their teammates and friends that had it taken away from them. Now, they’re in the same boat.

  1. Proper Frustration.

It’s so easy to be frustrated, angry and upset but it’s important to be educated on where that frustration needs to be placed. Take time to understand. Don’t just go off on social media because you’re ticked off.

I’ve seen some very well throughout posts and tweets on the subject from parents who have seen their kids change because of all of this. Their heartbroken, not because of a game but because of what the game meant to their kids.

  1. Sad.

I’ve talked to a number of 20-year-olds and as you can imagine, their crushed.

Hearing the outright sadness in their voices… I wish the decision makers could have heard from these guys directly. I think they would have understood a bit better, and it would have made a difference.

  1. Hungry.

It’s around lunch when I’m writing this, and I was thinking about food and that led to the businesses that get a boost from teams eating or staying at their establishments.

Business have suffered and this is just another kick. Teams often have their routine places. Bill’s Sticky Fingers in Portage. Boston Pizza in different towns. Local restaurants that stay open just to feed players after games.

They feel this league shutting down too.

  1. Angry, again.

Yup, still pretty upset about all of this.

Again, it’s about educating myself as to why. It’s got to be more than meets the eye but the league just did everything it could, and it was working. Volunteers were so safe. Players and staff went the extra mile.

At this moment, with all the other stuff allowed… I just don’t get it.

7 . Disappointment.

Little different from anger and for whatever reason, more impactful when you hear you’ve made someone not angry, but disappointed.

I’m disappointed not more is being made of these young men’s mental health. I talked with Mike Kehler, the pastor for the Pistons and other teams… he sees it firsthand.

These kids are struggling.

Mike and people like him are available. If you need to talk or you’ve noticed your kid, teammate, billet brother, family member, whomever is in need, reach out.

If you’re in need, coaches, teammates and friends will be there for you.

It’s okay to not be okay.

8 . Crushed.

I was lucky enough to talk with a good number of coaches this year doing Coach’s Convo and boy, they are sure going to miss having their group they had this year.

It’s crushing to think what could have been.

Every team was in it. Every team had a chance to make noise come playoff time.

  1. Optimistic.

As hard as is it to try and be positive, it’s all we can do. We have to try and look forward to a normal 2021-22 season.

The 19-year-olds from last year will carry with them the 20’s from this year and from the year before.

Fans will be allowed back in the stands. Business will support and the teams will show that love right back.

Volunteers who give their time will back in the rink with smiles on their faces.

New families will be in the MJHL. For some, it will be a whole new experience. For others, it’ll be appreciated so much more than perhaps ever before.

  1. Hope.

The league itself is in good hands.

Kevin Saurette managed through what will be the most disastrous event that will come his way. He managed it with class and a steadfast belief the league will survive.

There will be bumps but with Saurette at the helm, there are big things that will happen for the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.

Erik Swar will continue to work behind the scenes, building the MJHL brand, focusing on players and celebrating the many accomplishments from former players who have moved on to other leagues and teams.

There’s a lot to be proud of and there’s a lot of hope for the MJHL going forward.

  1. Honored.

I’ve got to speak candidly with coaches and players. Parents and fans. Some have trusted me to tell their stories while others have trusted me to keep it between us.

Talking even just for a few seconds to people around the rink, you understand how much they all care. About the kids on the ice, the staff working behind the scenes… they care about the community represented on the crest.

It’s been an honor to meet so many amazing people and look forward to that continuing in the future.

  1. Thankful.

To you, reading this right now. You. Yes you. Without you… well, I’d still be talking but it would mean less.

To the Steinbach Pistons organization and every team across the MJHL who’ve let me speak with the coaches and players, getting a view into them as people.

To Kevin Saurette and Erik Swar for trusting in me to do something like this. When the idea was hatched, the plan was for much more hockey content. Not so much on books, movies or feelings… but here we are.

To people close to me, for being there when I’ve struggled through all of this. It means more than you know.

To the players past and current, boys… thank you.

Bonus. Promise.

I promise to continue doing my small part in building the players, the organization and the league going forward.

I love the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.