Fewer teams are playing today that were when the month started.
Some never made the playoffs to begin with.
Others have since been eliminated.
But activity has not subsided.
Teams that are done playing for the 2013-2014 season are already prepping for the 2014-2015 campaign.
In this day of more teams and more leagues and players from near and far, hockey truly has become a 12-month sport.
During the so-called off-season there are summer leagues and tryout camps galore.
Take a break from hockey? Nah, there’s no reason to.
To be sure, everyone needs a holiday now and then but rarely does a day go by — no matter the time of year — that there isn’t a hockey story out there.
Coaches hired, coaches fired.
Players signed, players traded.
Tryout camp here, tryout camp there, summer-ice here, summer-ice there.
While it’s true that hockey has become an expensive sport, so too has morning coffee at Tim Hortons and lunch for the kids at McDonald’s.
High-level hockey here, high-level hockey there.
Where I live — in Sault Ste. Marie — there are teams from the Ontario Hockey League, Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League, North American Hockey League and Western Collegiate Hockey Association less than five miles apart.
And that doesn’t include major midget and minor midget teams or the relatively-new Midwest Jr. Hockey League squad.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
New to the area effective the 2014-2015 season will be the Canadian International Hockey League and its concept of border-free, global-style, junior hockey.
Plans are for the CIHL to be an 8-10 team league.
CIHL teams will play an unbalanced schedule of 44-48 games that would include a pair of showcase tournaments — one in Toronto and one in Traverse City — involving the aformentioned Midwest Jr. Hockey League.
Confirmed teams for the CIHL to date are from Espanola, Sudbury, Bracebridge, Collingwood, Colborne, Milton and Toronto.
As was first reported by HockeyNewsNorth.com, CIHL founder Tim Clayden is moving his successful Espanola Rivermen franchise to the new league from the NOJHL. Besides placing a strong third in the NOJHL standings in 2013-2014, Espanola led the league with an average per-game attendance of 526.
Clayden — who defines the term “mover and shaker” — has a reputation as one of the best Tier 2 junior hockey operators in Canada.