DYHA PRESIDENT COMMUNICATION AND HOCKEY PAUSE UPDATE
Dear DYHA & Ice Cats Members,
The Board would like to wish you all a happy and healthy start to the Holiday Season and give you an update on the state of hockey in Connecticut and more specifically at DYHA/Ice Cats.
You are all aware of the recent executive order 9M from Governor Lamont pausing team sports from November 23rd until January 19th. While DYHA is committed to the health and safety of its members, we strongly disagree with, and are deeply disappointed by, this decision, particularly as we have not seen the transmission of COVID in our program and feel youth hockey affords our children opportunities to develop intellectual, emotional, and physical abilities that will serve them for the rest of their lives.
This response by the state was unforeseen and not at all in keeping with other guidance we have received since rinks reopened in June. In addition, NO other state in New England or the East Coast has issued a rule as extreme as executive order 9M with pausing of team sports for almost two months. Several other states have shut rinks down for two weeks but have all allowed play to resume afterwards.
DYHA spent months planning for this season in light of COVID and have adapted along the way to create the safest environment possible for our players. We have followed state and local rules and guidance and our rinks’ protocols. DYHA implemented its own protocols to mitigate the risk of exposure to COVID for our players and we sent out weekly reminders of what was expected of our membership. As you know well, some of these protocols include limiting parent attendance at events, masking and limiting or closing locker rooms. Referees replaced traditional whistles with electronic versions. Game ending handshakes (a tremendous hockey tradition) were replaced by stick taps and a salute. Further, a couple of weeks ago, additional Phase 2.1 rules went into effect, including a requirement that players wear masks during play and prohibiting interstate games, which rules we and our families implemented immediately. We are very frustrated by the fact that these most recent rules were not given time to show that our sport could continue to be played safely.
We'd also like to provide you with some statistics about DYHA in the season of COVID. From the beginning of the hockey season on August 29th until now, we have played a lot of hockey... and I mean a LOT of hockey! We have hosted 367 games (and played an equivalent number of away games) and played 900 hours of hockey in Darien and Stamford. DYHA and Ice Cats teams have touched the ice 1,212 times at STR and DIH, which is about 15,756 player ice touches. Of the 745 players in the DYHA/Ice Cats program this season, only 3 players and one parent/coach have tested positive for COVID and, notably, we have seen zero transmission from those members to teammates, coaches or officials. In each of these instances, we followed our protocols and observed guidance from each town's health departments, including town orders to have its residents quarantine if they were potentially exposed to positive cases.
We are the largest youth hockey organization in the state of CT and the fact that we have only had 3 players and 1 parent coach test positive, with zero transmission so far this season is a very compelling story and one that we do not believe is known. Unfortunately, we are all dealing with the optics and storyline of a few tournaments from the summer where many out of state teams played and allegedly resulted in positive cases. This has proven to be a difficult narrative to overcome.
So where do we stand now? We are actively exploring all possible options to play hockey. At the moment we are being told we can only allow four skaters and a coach on the ice at STR. This is down 90% from our usual capacity and has made this season even more challenging. For now, our plan is to put four skaters and a coach on the ice, but there are differing views of the restrictions and thus we are also working with our rink operators and local officials to see what else is possible.
As you have seen from local news and media posts, several private rink owners, including STR, have banded together to petition the governor and state officials to amend his rule regarding winter sports and ice hockey specifically. We have joined in this effort and have also been in communication with several other youth hockey organizations within CT to work towards this goal as well. We have attached the two documents that were sent by these rinks to the Governor in support of this hockey initiative for your information.
This is a fluid situation and there are a lot of moving parts, but we will do what we can to make the most of this challenging situation and keep you informed of developments. Please be patient as this process will not be perfect and it will not be what we are accustomed to, but we will continue to perform our mission.
We also strongly urge all families to do the following:
1. Have your player write a letter to Governor Lamont stating “LET ME PLAY”
2. Parents: call Governor Lamont’s office at 860-566-4840. His office hours are Monday through Friday 9am-5pm
3. Write a letter to Governor Lamont and mail it to:
210 Capitol Ave
Hartford, CT 06106
4. Call and write your state and local representatives (Information attached)
Reach out to all the hockey families you know in CT and ask them to join in.
Thank you members. You have helped us through the first three months of an unusually difficult time. The next few weeks promise to be challenging as well, and we expect to be asking many of you to help us continue to work through this environment.
As always, please reach out to me if you have any questions.