Revival of Regals seems unlikely

North Peace Hockey League president Jack McAvoy must feel like a firefighter.

He always seems to be putting out fires.

The future of the league he has presided over every year since 1979-80 [except for 1986-87 when High Prairie’s Wayne Forrester was in charge] is in trouble. High Prairie and Fort St. Jon left this year. The league is down to five teams from a peak of 12 teams in 2004-05.

It is no secret it is difficult to run an NPHL club. It is costly and it is time consuming. I believe the average fan has no idea how much work and dedication is involved. Those who step forward to try and run a team should be congratulated and appreciated for their dedication.

The Regals left the NPHL for the third time at the start of the season. Rather than dwell on the reasons for their demise, let’s examine the possibility of their return.

It does not look good.

There have been no meetings held to re-organize. If they have been, it’s been in secret. Not a good thing.

Talk around town is virtually non-existent. Now that High Prairie has no local senior team, no one asks for scores. Interest is virtually zero.

Meanwhile, the Red Wings have come to town and by all accounts are building a solid fan base to fill the void. Good for them! High Prairians need their hockey fix. Like all towns in the region, we are and always will first be a hockey town.

To revive the Regals is no small task. Players must come forward and commit to the team and at least for the time being, expect very little or no compensation. Perhaps some gas and travel money, but the days of buying sticks and equipment is not within the team’s capabilities.

The cold, hard fact is no team in the NPHL makes money. If you are lucky enough to get into the semi-finals or finals, there is a slim chance to turn a profit.

Teams rely on sponsorship to pay the bills. Going full circle, anyone interested in reviving the club has not come forward to begin raising the needed money for a restart.

Anyone who knows me recognizes I am a huge fan of senior hockey. I have done the league stats since 1990-91. High Prairians remember the glory days of the team’s 13 championships. Times were good and everyone was on board.

In today’s world, with so much competition for the entertainment dollar, and so many expenses, it is a near Herculian task to operate a club unless someone with deep pockets takes it on as a mission of passion.

Will the Regals return? I surely hope so, but right now it looks unlikely. Teams are dropping like flies in this league so even if the Regals rise again like the Phoenix, there may not be a league left to play in.

Years ago, it was incomprehensive to think there would be no teams in High Prairie, Lakeland, or Valleyview, let alone Peace River and Fairview. Spirit River, Horse Lake and Hythe are also gone. I hope the fans in Falher realize how lucky they are to still have a team.

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