Benching kids silly call

DAVID LANGFORD -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

At each and every London Knights home game, a local Ford dealer, through its sponsorship agreement, has someone drive one of its vehicles around the ice surface between periods.

Also, during time outs, John Labatt Centre staff skate out quickly, cleaning excess snow pileups off the ice.

Two Fridays ago, the Teddy Bear Toss took place after the first Knights goal.

Teddy bears, without the proper insurance, poured over the boards, all in the aid of the Salvation Army. And then keen workers went on the ice, most without skates, to gather the poor bears.

Hockey Canada, self-appointed protectors of the ice, where were you then?

You have told us in recent days that you are the protectors when any of your teams, including the Knights, take to the ice for a game of shinny.

You do not stop at the three 20-minute periods and any possible overtimes and shootouts. You are there to protect us before and after each game, as well as intermissions.

So you "saved" us this week from having two groups of Red Circle mite players, children with a top age of six, skate for three minutes between periods of World Under-17 Hockey Challenge games during the Christmas school break.

How, by the way, did you miss the Red Circle players when they skated during a Knights intermission?

Insurance an issue? No. Waivers could be signed. If that was not good enough, we're certain local groups would have paid for whatever insurance was needed.

Ryan Robins of Hockey Canada told us that was, in fact, not good enough.

"At the end of the day, this association (Red Circle) has decided not to fall under the auspices of Hockey Canada."

Guilty as charged, Red Circle reports.

But what about Da Bears, and the Ford dealer, and for that matter, the anthem singers? Heavens, even sponsors walk out on the carpet for the ceremonial faceoff.

Have they pledged their allegiance to the Queen, the Prime Minister and, oh yes, Hockey Canada? They probably haven't even paid their Hockey Canada fees.

Joe O'Neill, chairperson of the host committee for the Under-17, apologized to the Red Circle players and their followers for the "mistake" of allowing the players to be approved in the first place.

O'Neill, one of the most dedicated local minor sports types in our area, took the fall on behalf of the national body and offered to bring all the players to the game -- but not on the ice.

O'Neill need not have taken the plunge.

This was all about politics. And I might add, that is why Red Circle left Hockey Canada's ranks in the first place.

In other news, Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has guaranteed $12.5 million to Hockey Canada for the right to hold the 2009 world junior tournament.


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