Hockey program not a priority for TRU

TRU faces difficulty in resurrecting its hockey program due to funding

TRU’s hockey program returned in 2009 under head coach Chris Hans. Despite finishing second in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League, the program ended in 2015. (TRU Athletics)

When the hockey program was shut down back in 2014, it was due to financial costs and lack of funding.

Hockey is seen as an integral part of Canadian culture, as a part of the country’s identity, as a sport that perfectly suits the nation’s weather conditions.This makes it a little odd that TRU doesn’t have a hockey program anymore.

Over the years the biggest problem has been the financial costs of getting a team on the ice. The WolfPack program was started back in the 2008/09 season and ceased operations in the 2014/15 season.

The problem as described by the TRU athletics was the lack of a sustainable financial model.

There were some attempts to revive the program such as Trevor Bast back in 2014, his son had been recruited by TRU and he tried to save the TRU hockey program through petitions and fundraising, but to no avail.

In recent years there hasn’t been any news in relation to the program and its return.

However, recently appointed athletic director Curtis Atkinson didn’t rule it out completely when he spoke to the Omega, but he did state that adding a program is not a major goal for TRU now.

“It’s difficult to say whether or not it will happen definitively,” Atkinson said, “It’s not in my plans, I want to do a full evaluation of the programs we have.”

Yet Atkinson didn’t completely rule it out.

“You never know long-term, hockey is a significant investment,” he said.

Atkinson wasn’t around when the hockey program was at TRU, but he explained that he had plenty of experience dealing with hockey programs and that these kind of programs were very expensive to maintain.

“Right off the bat you must look at whether its applying for Canada West or the BC intercollegiate hockey league and then really start to consider a financial model,” Atkinson said.

“It’s significant any way you slice it,” he said, “Particularly when you don’t have access to your own facilities and you have to start looking at community facilities,” remarked Atkinson.

Atkinson reiterated the fact that the business model is the most important thing and that it plays a huge role in making any form of commitment.

Despite the challenges that TRU would face, Atkinson kept an open mind regarding the issue.

“Things can change, financial models can change,” he said, “Perhaps there will be some incentives to become financially involved,” Atkinson concluded.

Atkinson also made it clear that his responsibility is not to just bring back the hockey program.

“I want to evaluate the programs that we have and make sure that we are funding them to be successful,” he said.

The hockey program is a difficult program to resurrect, largely because of the finances involved in the sport, such challenges make it highly unlikely that TRU will have a program anytime soon.
The pay to play model used in baseball won’t work in hockey because of the exorbitant costs involved.

Kelly Olynyk, former WolfPack athletic director stated that part of the problem was that some hockey players in the program were not willing to pay the money that was being asked of them, if the players won’t pay then it will be up to the university to do so.

If that is indeed the case, then it will take the university getting more funding for the hockey program to comeback to TRU.