When Rick Richards packed it in as general manager of the Cochrane Generals at the end of last season he assured us he was still passionate about the junior hockey team.
Apparently, it was just lip service. Richards has returned as club president to help deal with the challenges of a season burden by COVID-19.
"The way it's going to go this year with the chaos, and because I know the team, I know the board, I know how the league works, and I was going to be on the board anyway, it made more sense for me to step into the role of president," explains Richards.
Exactly how the play will unfold this year continues to be a work in progress for the Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL). It now appears exhibition games will be played until the end of December before a regular season gets the greenlight.
He explains a wait-and-see ratio is being used by Hockey Alberta to see if health officials will be closer to a COVID-19 vaccine at that point.
Right now, the Gens are firming up exhibition games. When play resumes, they'll be able to have up to 100 fans in the stands. They're also looking at providing live-streaming for those who can't attend in person.
The Gens are opening their training camps at the end of the month, first with a two-day goalie camp, then a three-day open camp.
There's been a flood of goalies seeking a spot on the roster, and with two already returning from last year, the coaches will have some tough decisions to make.
Because the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) is also struggling to find its way through COVID-19, there could be a large influx of graduating 'AAA' midget and junior 'A' players seeking a chance to play here. Those playing on most AJHL teams will be paying a high fee to lace up. There will likely be a fee charged by the Gens, but it isn't expect to be as high.
Even in the HJHL, COVID-19 has created some imparities in potential operating revenue. Some, for example, are not currently allowed to have fans in the stands, including the Okotoks Bisons.