In preparing the Return to Play (RTP) plan, Hockey Manitoba has worked in coordination with Hockey Canada, Sport Manitoba, and the Province of Manitoba and the plan was reviewed by a task team which included input from a variety of stakeholders.
As a reminder, the RTP document will remain fluid and flexible to accommodate the necessary changes from local health authorities. Below are answers to important questions that have been asked by our members to help coaches, officials, players and volunteers return to hockey safely.
The Communications Officer
Q: Is each team required to appoint a Communications Officer?
A: Yes. For the 2020 – 2021 hockey season, each team in Manitoba is required to appoint a Communications Officer who will be responsible for ensuring all individuals in and around the team are equipped with updated and relevant information regarding the COVID-19 health crisis. The Hockey Manitoba Communications Officer Toolkit clearly outlines the roles and responsibilities of the Communications Officer and provides information to help guide the Communications Officer throughout the hockey season.
Q: When does the Communications Officer have to be in place?
A: If the Communications Officer has not previously been established, it should be in place prior to players returning to the ice. This individual will handle all the Return to Play and safety protocols related to COVID-19.
Q: Do teams need to track all persons in the facility/arena during practices and games or just players/parents?
A: Teams are responsible for tracking their own players. The facility/arena would be responsible for the capacity of the facility/arena. Hockey Manitoba has released the appropriate tracking protocols that all teams are required to follow.
Q: Can the role of the communications officer be performed by an existing team official, or in the case of senior hockey, a player?
A: The role can be performed by an existing staff member or volunteer however should not be the responsibility of a player.
Q: Does the communications officer need to have Respect in Sport (RIS) certification?
A: There is no additional requirement for the communications officer to complete Respect in Sport however existing team officials or parents are required to have the Activity Leader or Parent Program, respectively.
Q: Who is required to keep a record of the COVID-19 screening questions?
A: The team Communications Officer should ensure all players have completed the mandatory COVID-19 screening prior to attending and tracking attendance. Screening can be completed online at sharedhealthmb.ca/covid19/screening-tool/ or in Interactive Voice Response (IVR) format at 1-877-308-9038. Attendance records should be kept for at least 30 days.
Q: How will information be sent to the communications officer on each team?
A: Minor Hockey Associations are required to collect the email information for each team’s communications officer. Important Hockey Manitoba information will be updated on the website and sent to associations as required. The communications officer should also be aware of any information communicated by the Province of Manitoba/Manitoba Public Health.
Q: What happens if a player tests positive for COVID-19?
A: If an athlete tests positive for COVID-19, Public Health will be in contact with the athlete, begin contact tracing and will advise them daily. After isolating for 10 days, a player who has tested positive for COVID-19 will be permitted to return if they have been symptom-free for 24 hours and have been approved by Public Health.
Q: What will the protocol be for teams that need to share goalie equipment?
A: We recommend only one member of the team use the equipment during a given practice or game. Wherever possible, players should use their own helmets and not share helmets. After the goalie equipment is used, it should be washed/sanitized/disinfected (as best you can) at home by the individual who used it last and then brought back for the next person to use. We encourage coaches to allow players who show interest to play consecutive games in goal to reduce the number of times the goalie equipment needs to be washed and shared.
Q: In the equipment section of the Return to Play document it states “Equipment that is shared (pucks, pylons, etc.) must only be handled by the owner of the equipment.”, Will game officials be responsible to bring game pucks now instead of asking the home team for pucks?
A: Once Phase 3 is approved; the home team should provide pucks to officials.
Q: What are the recommendations regarding mouthguards?
A: Mouthguards are required as per the Hockey Manitoba Handbook for all levels excluding senior hockey. It is important that mouth guards are properly worn, washed, and only be handled by the individual player.
Q: What is allowed in Phase 2?
A: Phase 2 consists of on-ice skill development (non-contact), drills, and team tactics but no regular season competition (games) or exhibition games will be permitted, rather teams should plan safe practices to welcome players back to the ice.
Q: Will there be a maximum number of players permitted on the ice during practice sessions?
A: The maximum number of players on the ice will be limited to the maximum roster size at each level.
- Minor Hockey/U15 AAA – 19 Athletes
- U18 AAA/High School – 20 Athletes
- Junior/Senior Hockey – 25 Athletes
Q: Is there a limit to how many teams we can have on the ice?
A: There will be a maximum of two teams on the ice. If there are two teams sharing ice, they will each be permitted their maximum roster size if they remain separated on their respective half of the ice.
Q: What is the maximum number of people that can be on a bench?
A: Phase 2 allows for up to 10 people (players and coaches) permitted on a bench.
Q: Are competitive drills with contact allowed in Phase 2?
A: Competitive drills are permitted with limited contact however drills should not be set up for extended contact and ensure that the occurrence of multiple players in a small area is minimal.
Q: Are tournaments allowed in Phase 2?
A: No, tournaments will not be approved at this time.
Q: Are out-of-province tournaments allowed?
A: Currently travel permits will not be accepted or approved.
Q: Have the facilities seen the RTP document?
A: The four versions of Hockey Manitoba’s Return to Play plan are available on the Hockey Manitoba website and Hockey Manitoba has shared these documents with facilities.
Q: Can a league seek approval for all teams at once?
A: Yes, Hockey Manitoba will accept a request on behalf of a league.
Q: Who is checking facilities to make sure that the rules are being followed?
A: The safety of all members should be the number one priority of all participants and therefore a joint effort between user groups, members, and facilities is required. There is a level of trust and compliance to enforce regulations required by Hockey Manitoba, through Regions, Associations, and respective teams to follow the rules and ultimately Public Health and The Province of Manitoba for facilities.
Q: On a team with a full roster, can all players and coaches use one dressing room provided all players and coaches are wearing a mask?
A: Physical distancing should always be enforced in dressing rooms. Only team personnel will be allowed in dressing rooms (coaches, medical staff, and players). If a parent is required, only one parent per player will be permitted. No additional family members will be allowed in dressing rooms. Facilities may be required to limit their usual capacity in all areas, including dressing rooms based on public health orders. It is recommended that teams use two dressing rooms whenever possible to physically distance players based on facility availability.
Q: What is the maximum number of players for tryouts?
A: Similar to practice, the maximum number of players on the ice will be limited to the maximum roster size permitted to each level.
Q: What should we do if we do not have a team Communications Officer in place by tryouts?
A: Due to the tryout/evaluation process taking place prior to team formation it is a requirement that all associations and organizations have an identified Communications Officer for the tryout process. This individual will handle the RTP and safety protocols related to COVID-19 during the tryout process. Following team formation, these responsibilities will shift to the Communications Officer for each team.
Q: Are inter-squad games or scrimmages allowed at tryouts?
A: Inter-squad games or scrimmages at tryouts are allowed but they must be non-contact. These should be heavily controlled full-ice play that can be formatted as 5-v-5, 4-v-4 or 3-v-3. The number of athletes participating in the scrimmage CANNOT exceed one roster consisting of the maximum roster size for that particular level of hockey. During a scrimmage, the maximum number of individuals allowed on the bench cannot exceed 10 players, coaches, or team staff. As always, players and coaches need to observe physical distancing recommendations while on the ice/players bench. Exhibition games will not be allowed.
Q: What is the difference between scrimmages and games?
A: Only the members of the same team would be permitted to participate in a scrimmage as opposed to two teams in a game. A scrimmage should be controlled by a coach. The number of players permitted on the ice should not exceed the maximum roster size of one team.
Q: When do you anticipate moving to Phase 3?
A: Should the resumption of organized sports be permitted in any Region in Manitoba, Minor Hockey Associations, Leagues, and Teams will require approval from Hockey Manitoba to Return to Play and will be required to spend at least 10 days in Phase 2 of the Hockey Manitoba Return to Play plan.
Q: Are there any changes to faceoff alignment for players?
A: Alignment will remain the same however it is recommended that all players and the official remain distanced at the top, bottom or to the side of the face-off circle until the official blows the whistle and then move to their appropriate positions for the puck drop.
Q: Is there any plan to change (shorten) length of periods/games to help allow for extra time of players entering/exiting ice surface?
A: At this time there will be no changes to the length of games. When leaving the ice, coaches should excuse players one-by-one in an orderly fashion to ensure athletes are given appropriate time to exit the ice surface without congregating. Adequate time should be planned to ensure this can be done.
Q: Are there any plans to remove intermission?
A: Currently there are no plans to remove intermissions. All spectators should continue to follow each facility’s protocols and practice physically distancing in all areas.
Q: With limiting arrival times, will referees be able to mandate an early start time?
A: The existing rule in most regions is that a game cannot begin more than 15-minutes prior to the originally scheduled start time. If both teams have arrived at the facility and are fully dressed and prepared to begin, the officials may begin the game early with the agreement of both participating teams.
Q: What happens to the game schedule?
A: Regions or Leagues will be required to submit expected start dates and the number of games for approval by Hockey Manitoba. Based on circumstances surrounding COVID-19 at the time of transition into Phase 3, leagues may need to reduce the number of games scheduled for the 2020 – 2021 season.
Q: If spectator capacity is limited, what do the visiting team parents do due to capacity regulations?
A: It is important that the team Communications Officer identify what the protocols and capacity are before arriving at the facility to ensure families are aware of the regulations.
Q: The Return to Play document mentions that AA Female players can arrive 45 minutes prior to ice time. What about AA Male?
A: U15 AA Female (Winnipeg) is classified as the highest level of female hockey within Hockey Winnipeg and therefore is on par with U15 AAA Female teams in rural parts of the province. As a result, U15 AA Female teams in Winnipeg will be permitted to arrive 45 minutes prior to their scheduled ice time. U15 AA Male teams are not the highest level of male hockey at the U15 age category therefore they will only be permitted to arrive 30 minutes prior to their scheduled ice-time.
Q: Will Affiliate Players (APs) be permitted?
A: Under the current rules for our Phase 3 of Return to Play teams will be permitted to use Affiliate Players.
Q: Are masks required?
A: Yes. All participants including players, coaches, staff, volunteers, spectators, and officials are required to wear face masks in facilities where Hockey Manitoba-sanctioned activities take place.
Q: Is the recommendation that masks are worn on the ice?
A: Players and officials are not required to wear face masks while on the ice engaging in physical activity but are required to wear face masks in the dressing room before and after their ice time. Team officials, including coaches, are required to wear face masks while on the bench.
Q: Are officials required to use different types of whistles (electronic or the new Caul)?
A: Officials will be allowed the use of electronic officials, but we do not require officials to have them.
Q: With respect to the hand sanitizer required on the bench, in dressing rooms etc. Will this be the responsibility of the team or the facility to provide?
A: On the bench and in dressing rooms, teams should provide hand sanitizer. Individual players may also have their own sanitizer.
Q: Are kids allowed to play multiple sports?
A: Yes. Hockey Manitoba has always encouraged players to participate in multiple sports as a part of our Long-Term Athlete Development model. Players should follow the respective RTP safety protocols of the specific sport.
Q: Will Hockey Manitoba handle any media communications at the Minor Hockey Association (MHA) level?
A: In the event that a situation occurs within a Minor Hockey Association (MHA) that garners media attention, the MHA can contact the Hockey Manitoba office for communications support.
Q: Is there a possibility of an emergency fund available through Hockey Manitoba for Minor Hockey Associations if needed for health protocol improvements at their local rink?
A: At this time there is no plan to offer an emergency fund for facility improvements however if there is a specific need related to COVID-19 please contact the Hockey Manitoba office.
Q: Will teams/players living near the boarders be permitted to play in Manitoba?
A: Athletes living in communities on provincial borders may be eligible for participation within Manitoba pending approval from Hockey Manitoba. Athletes living in communities on the American side of the USA/Canadian Border will not be eligible for participation in Manitoba until the border is open for travel.
Q: Is there a scenario/situation identified that activities would be stopped? Or will this be continually monitored, and the call made when appropriate?
A: The Return to Play plan will be continually monitored by Hockey Manitoba and any decision to suspend or delay activities will be made by the Provincial Health Authorities in consultation with Hockey Manitoba.
Q: Is the team obligated to inform the facility staff immediately of symptoms so affected areas can be tended to?
A: Yes, staff should be informed and any person with symptoms should leave the facility immediately and isolate and follow the necessary protocols established by Manitoba Public Health.
Q: What if a U7/U9 player needs a car seat and therefore cannot arrive fully dressed?
A: Players will only be recommended to arrive fully dressed if it is safe to do so. The intent is to limit the number of people and time spent in dressing rooms in proximity to others.
Click HERE for the most up to date Return to Play information.