A former NHL forward and TV analyst has launched a petition asking the provincial government to allow Major Junior and Junior A hockey leagues to start up again.
Garry Valk, who played for the Vancouver Canucks and worked as an analyst on their TV broadcasts after his playing days, said on the petition that the mental health of youth is something that has not been taken into consideration by B.C.’s elected officials.
“The BCHL Junior A hockey league has proven they can safely and responsibly play hockey while keeping the community safe,” wrote Valk, whose son, Garrett, is a member of the B.C. Hockey League’s Trail Smoke Eaters. “We safely played our preseason games in our cohorts before the season was abruptly cancelled.
“It is clearly demonstrated now that hockey can safely be resumed, as seen in all other Junior A leagues in Canada and USA and Europe.”
The QMJHL, NCAA, USHL, NAHL, AJHL, SJHL, and now the WHL are all moving ahead with their return-to-play protocols.
The BCHL and WHL in British Columbia are the only leagues yet to have a return-to-play set. The Kootenay International Junior B Hockey League cancelled its season in early February.
“As we see all other junior hockey leagues playing and kids from those leagues being scouted and potentially drafted while our B.C. kids sit on the sidelines, we call on (Premier) John Horgan, Dr. Bonnie Henry, and (health minister) Adrian Dix to allow the BCHL and WHL to return to play before it is too late,” said Valk.
The petition has drawn more than 3,100 signatures toward a goal of 4,000 as of Sunday morning, Feb. 28.
The province will announce the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization plan Monday, March 1, at 10:30 a.m.