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Messier concerned over drop in Canadian kids playing hockey

Aug 2, 2013, 10:44 AM EDT

Mark Messier AP

A poll taken last winter in Canada determined that fewer kids are getting into hockey. While Canada prides itself on the sport, the drop in participation is taking many by surprise including Mark Messier.

Messier tells The Canadian Press he’s stunned by the results and wants to help improve things as best as he can.

“I think it comes to a shock to everybody,” he said. “We like to consider ourselves at the top of the pyramid in hockey around the world and if we’re going to stay there . . . we have to continue to develop our talent pool.”

Messier wants to do this by introducing more kids to the sport and help keep them interested it as they grow up. Of course, hockey is one of the more expensive sports to play as equipment isn’t cheap so more kids are getting into sports like basketball and soccer.

This development probably doesn’t do much to calm Canadian nerves when it comes to the World Junior Championships either as Canada hasn’t won gold there since 2009.

  1. ballistictrajectory - Aug 2, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    You can’t have any pudding if you keep icing the puck. If you keep icing the puck you can’t have any pudding. With apologies to Pink Floyd.

  2. jcmeyer10 - Aug 2, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    I blame global warming melting too much ice.

  3. budzo83 - Aug 2, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    What kid in Canada hasn’t been introduced to hockey? Maybe it’s over-exposure to the sport that’s the problem.

  4. jhunter21 - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    I think a large part has to do with the cost of hockey. In the past 15 years, we’ve seen everything from slurpees to gasoline, and everything in between, at minimum, double in price; however, the wages in Canada has only risen 30 – 40 %. I’m not saying its the only reason, but hockey is freaking expensive, and the inflation of resources hasn’t matched the inflation of wages.

    • dueman - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:09 PM

      I was writing my comment when yours went up, but we’re on the same page.

    • adambballn - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:18 PM

      I agree… I wanted to play hockey badly as a kid but my family just didn’t have enough money to pay for me to do it… soccer and wrestling were inexpensive.

      • lombardisshineinfoxborough - Aug 2, 2013 at 5:10 PM

        How about getting used equipment? I don’t think I had anything new until I was a Bantam….I know it’s still expensive, but was a great way to save money. I can remember being the only kid rocking the 1970s style “tube skates”…they worked fine.

    • davebabychreturns - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:28 PM

      How freaking Canadian would it be for the issue of the shrinking middle class in this country to fail to register on the radar of public discourse until it affected participation in kids hockey which in turn hurt the country’s chances in international tournaments…

    • oramisteek - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:57 PM

      I’m asking because I have no idea…. What are the costs associated w/playing hockey? Ice time? Equipment? Travel expenses? In the US, it seems to be a rich kids’ game or for poor parents who only work for their kids to play hockey. I thought, perhaps naively so, that Canada had ice rinks aplenty, thus keeping the costs significantly down.

      • dueman - Aug 2, 2013 at 4:43 PM

        No, it’s the same here in Canada.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Aug 2, 2013 at 10:22 PM

      I clicked on the story ready to make essentially the same comment you did. It’s also that it’s not just the equipment and basic hockey fees now, you have to pay for tournaments, and kids are expected to take hockey camps and power skating in the summer etc.

  5. dueman - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    We’re still trying to escape the clutches of this recession, and he’s wondering why there are less kids playing hockey? Hockey has become a rich people’s sport to play. All the regular folk are still struggling to pay 2-3 hundred dollar hydro bills, $1.30+/liter ($5.00+/gallon) for gas, and $3.00+ for a bloody loaf of bread! Make it cheaper, they will come!

    • jcmeyer10 - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:29 PM

      It’s no wonder a guy who will never have to worry about money again says this.

  6. frankiesweep - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:08 PM

    Americans are better hockey players, and Canadian kids have become scared. Just the way it is…

    • dueman - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:11 PM

      Get a life, or go troll somewhere else!

    • mathieug79 - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:24 PM

      Remember Vancouver Olympics? yeahhh that’s what I thought! SIDNEY CROSBY WITH THE GOLDEN GOAL!!!

    • fredericton101 - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:09 PM

      Well you see frankiesweep is bored and just trying to get a reaction because his statement is so “out there”!

      • lombardisshineinfoxborough - Aug 2, 2013 at 5:15 PM

        I think the gap between US and Canadian players has narrowed significantly. Obviously Canada still has the edge and far more NHLrs, but when you look at the best the US has to offer versus the best Canada has to offer, it’s clearly not just “your game” anymore….

  7. 950003cups - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    It’s because kids today would rather sit home and play video games and eat potato chips.

    The future of this region will be full of fat lazy people.

    • davebabychreturns - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:30 PM

      This is ridiculous. I mean I’m sure you already know that, but still.

    • cardsandbluesforever - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:37 PM

      you hit the nail on the head sir. its not even so much playing video games, but a migration towards tech in general. game consoles, smart phones most kids would rather spend their time immersed in the digital world because its new and exciting.

      as stated above the cost factor does come into play, but shifting trends are the main culprit.

      I bet if you turned off the internet all across Canada, kids would go outside and find something to do, like ride bikes, play a sport, interact with their friends in person- you know, the stuff we used to do when we were kids…

    • mathieug79 - Aug 2, 2013 at 6:01 PM

      actually in Canada, we can’t afford patato chips? STEPHEN HARPER pockets all of our earnings.

  8. mathieug79 - Aug 2, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    Blame Stephen harper for his S****Y Governement!!

    • dueman - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:26 PM

      Who the f’k shot this down? The guy is the worst Prime Minister Canada has ever had! Right now his approval rating is around 17%. Did all 17% come on this site and give the loser a thumbs up? 2015 can’t come fast enough for the people of Canada!

  9. blackhawks2010 - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    Hockey is Canada’s past time. This article is idiocy, that’s like saying Americans are losing interest in Baseball or Football.

    • oramisteek - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:58 PM

      Well, it’s staggering how low the number of black kids who play baseball in the US is.

    • hockeyflow33 - Aug 2, 2013 at 4:45 PM

      The participation numbers in both those sports has dropped dramatically

  10. robertsds - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:28 PM

    Cost! Just bought my 10 yo eq for the first time…
    Hand me down skates, gloves-50, shin guards-40, helmet-60, pants and socks-70, stick-40=$260, say $300 with odds and ends. Hes 10 so new skates each year and other eq fast behind. Plus, ice time/team cost of anywhere from $600-1200 per year.
    Soccer-$195 per year (travel/allstar team, all included)

  11. hockeyflow33 - Aug 2, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    I think equipment costs have dropped dramatically from where they were 20 years ago though. Hockey stores in the northeast US have gear packs for kids for like $150 with everything. There are also a lot more outlets for used goods like craigslist, ebay, etc

    I wonder how much the longer season impacts the decision to play. The youth season is longer than the NHL season now.

  12. dhillca - Aug 2, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    I think the cost is a major issue. I coach minor hockey and my son is 10 yrs old. His fees for hockey this year are $695 plus $150 tryout fees for competitive (non refundable). If he makes a competitive team like he did last year the team will have fund raise or get more money from families totalling $15,000. This covers extra ice times for practices, tournament registrations, etc.
    The parents are responsible for their own travel and hotel costs for 3-4 tournaments a year. Add cost of equipment to this and travel to two practices and games a week and you can start to see the cost of hockey for a 10 year old.
    I know some parents with very talented kids who may have to quit hockey due to costs.

  13. dumbassgreg - Aug 2, 2013 at 6:31 PM

    cost . old guy thoughts here but in the ice age when played as a kid. i used hand me down equipment from older friends/ very few kids or their parents would even consider not playing with latest stuff. parents have killed fun. too many have dreams of nhl riches. you finish your check or shoot or pass it all the time.just get a puck play.also kids don’t think most can play without mommy and daddy watching every game. you very rarely see kids playing street hockey. there is also injury concerns.

    no surprise kids are turning to soccer,basketball,swimming. also canadian changing cultural landscape.

  14. spitfisher - Aug 2, 2013 at 7:19 PM

    Mr Messier, its not just hockey, its a lot of sports. We heard how tiger woods will inspire the youth to play golf….it never happened, still hasn’t happened and he has been a pro since 1998, The golf industry has been down every year since 2000. However the networks covering golf has gone thru the roof. I love watching hockey I know about hockey, I can explain hockey and its rules, hell I could coach hockey but I am not inspired to lace up skates.

  15. ray2013 - Aug 3, 2013 at 4:13 AM

    When I was growing up in rural Alberta, the only boys who didn’t play hockey were ones with physical disabilities.

    But now? Cost can’t be the only reason that 9/10 kids aren’t playing hockey.

  16. stoopidfool - Aug 3, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    I think it just comes down to Canadian youth realizing who they really are and dropping hockey in the name of preparing to be self-righteous to the rest of the world

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