London mayor takes players' side

JONATHAN SHER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

London Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best will ask Hockey Canada today to reconsider a decision to take back from young children what many were told was a Christmas gift.

But the mayor stopped short of saying Hockey Canada was wrong to take away invitations to skate during intermissions of the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge to two teams that play in an independent league.

"I can't really comment if they are doing the right thing or the wrong thing but I will see if there is anything I can do to help given them a second thought," she said yesterday.

The mayor will make her case today at a reception planned for organizers of the hockey tournament that will include representatives of Hockey Canada and the host organizing committee.

"I'm going to broach the issue to see if there's anything we can do," the mayor said. "(But) I don't want to create any false hope."

While the mayor was concerned, Londoners responding to a Free Press article yesterday about the dis-invitation were furious, one going as far as writing Hockey Canada and sponsors of the tournament.

"Kids are kids, sir, no matter what league they play in and no matter what lingo or loyalties adults have. In a young child's understanding, if the adults made a promise then it should be honoured," Betsy Reilly, who instructs teachers at the University of Western Ontario, wrote to a Hockey Canada official.

Messages left yesterday by The Free Press with Hockey Canada weren't returned.

Two teams in the Red Circle league, made up of kids ages four, five and six, were invited Dec. 11 by the John Labatt Centre to skate during intermissions if their families and friends bought 25 tickets. The teams committed to buy 150.

But this week, Hockey Canada withdrew the invitation, saying it had been sent in error by the host committee to Red Circle, which it described as a competitor.

The kids were invited to attend the games but can't skate, Hockey Canada officials said.

READERS RESPOND

"As a professor, teacher, mother and grandmother, I see this as an affront to the values the adult world should model for the young. These families were also told they had to sell tickets on behalf of the event. So not only has a promise been broken but they have been used."

-- Betsy Reilly, Faculty of Education, University of Western Ontario

Hockey Canada is all about the money . . . Every one of their policies ensures that their revenue flows remain constant . . . Hockey Canada should be ashamed of itself."

-- Lisa Thomas

"Unbelievable that Hockey Canada would decide to revoke the invitation. Children should never be discriminated against . . . Hockey Canada and the host organizing committee should set a good example and honour their invitation."

-- Peter Seney

"It appears to me this entire issue is as always just a matter of money. Hockey Canada should reflect on its own words 'Relax, it's just a game.' "

-- Ron Vanos

HOCKEY CANADA RESPONDS

"The situation as it has unfolded is unfortunate. However, Hockey Canada maintains that our priority remains the servicing and provision of opportunities for our membership across Canada."

-- Scott Farley, Director, Marketing Services & Events, Hockey Canada


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