'We made a bad choice': Winnipeg hockey teams apologize for travelling outside the city amid code red
WINNIPEG -- Two Winnipeg-based Manitoba Junior Hockey League teams that travelled outside the city for practice amid code red restrictions are apologizing for their actions saying they made a mistake.
The apology comes in response to outcry after the Winnipeg Freeze and Winnipeg Blues were spotted practicing in Warren, Man., on Nov. 9 after the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region had been placed under strict COVID-19 restrictions which included the closure of arenas.
In a statement released on Friday the two teams said after hearing of the restrictions, they booked the Sunova Arena in Warren to allow the players to continue to train.
Though told by Hockey Manitoba that this would not be a sanctioned event, the teams said their players participated in training through a private company called Laker Academy in Warren to “avoid conflict with the Hockey Manitoba directive”.
“Although no approval was given by Hockey Manitoba or the MJHL, we did not hide our intentions to pursue a privately run unsanctioned option for the players,” the statement reads. “We assumed that since this was clearly unsanctioned and privately insured, no approvals were required. Having said that, in hindsight, we were mistaken.”
The teams said as they were making decisions it was of ‘critical importance’ that they followed the Manitoba public health orders.
They said they requested that the Warren arena check with a public health inspector to confirm the private training of their players at the arena was allowed under the health orders. According to the statement, the inspector said it was okay as long as the players and the arena followed the health orders.
“This was not to create deception in any way. Although our intentions were good and with the best interests of the players at heart, in hindsight, given the circumstances, we were wrong and for that we apologize,” the teams said.
“The bottom line is that in an unprecedented situation, with honest intentions, we made a bad choice.”
Earlier this week, Hockey Manitoba, the governing body of amateur hockey in the province, said it was investigating the incident.
In a statement to CTV News, Peter Woods, executive director for Hockey Manitoba, said the governing body’s board of directors has scheduled a meeting for Nov. 15 to discuss the incident.
“The teams have acknowledged they made a mistake,” he said in an email to CTV News. “When any member accepts ownership of a mistake and sincerely apologies, to move forward acceptance should be acknowledged.”
You can read the full statement from the Winnipeg Freeze and Winnipeg Blues below: