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 running their training camps from Oct. 1 to 4, opening with a one-hour goalie session on Oct. 1. It was originally scheduled to include a two-day goalie camp to accommodate a large influx of players seeking a spot on the roster. The original scheduled was altered by Hockey Alberta, due to COVID-19 regulations.

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. 

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.