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FORMER PRO PLAYER HAS CREATED A HOCKEY LEAGUE FOR JUNIOR AND PRO PLAYERS TO PLAY THE GAME SAFELY

An interesting story coming out of Ottawa on Saturday has a former professional hockey player turned coach/trainer, Ryan Hand, creating a new league for junior and pro hockey players to help keep their skills sharp, but will also allow them to have fun and just play the game that they love - but most importantly, play it safely.

Hand calls the league the "Hand Made Hockey League", which features a trophy, which Hand, himself, assembled.. by hand. Say that 10 times fast.

The Hand Made Hockey League is able to operate safely by following three simple rules. No faceoffs, no contact and no stoppages. This makes for a skill-driven game with a very high pace, which is exciting for the players who have chosen to participate. Some notable names in the bunch are NHL-hopeful and Peterborough Petes center Mason McTavish and NHL defenseman Slater Koekkoek.

“It’s a good way to keep the pace up, lots of good players, you can always pick up little things that they do that got them to where they are,” McTavish said. “You just need to keep working as hard as you can. You are just trying to get noticed and, if everything goes well and you work hard, that’s really all you can do.”

For Koekkoek, his attendance is mainly about the healthy competition, which has been difficult to replicate while the NHL is on hiatus and without having to travel great distances to play in the various European men's leagues.

“It’s huge. You can go on the ice all you want and work on your stick handling and some one-on-one sessions, but when it comes to some healthy competition, it’s pretty hard to find.”

Hand has confirmed that he is already planning for a next season and even has plans for a potential 32-team summer tournament to be held on Canada Day 2021, so long as the ongoing pandemic will allow it.



“When everybody talks about COVID and remembers the bad times, I want to be remembered as someone who truly helped out," said Hand.

It's so easy to get caught up in all of the negative byproducts that a pandemic can create. Kudos to people like Ryan Hand who are doing what they can to provide a fun and challenging environment for players, while abiding all stringent COVID-19 safety measures imposed and enforced by the government to mitigate the risk of exposure. It's no easy task, and for that, I think we can all appreciate what Hand is trying to do.

MIKE ARMENTI
NOVEMBER 28, 2020  (9H52)
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