A Players Perspective by Andrew Perrott

Twitter: @AndrewPerrott1

On February 24th Attack defenseman Andrew Perrott released a letter expressing the feelings of Ontario Hockey League players on the current return to play situation.  He also posted a link to an online petition allowing the players to get back to playing.  If you wish to sign this petition it can be found by following the link at the bottom of this letter.  His letter is below.

Dear Ontario Hockey League, Lisa Macleod, and Doug Ford,

The last year has been a crazy whirl wind of ups and downs as an athlete trying to find motivation and purpose to keep pursuing a dream that has been imbedded into my soul since the day I first laced up a pair of hockey skates. Today I write to you to express my personal experiences and struggles throughout this year, and I feel confident enough to say that my fellow OHL teammates and colleagues share similar struggles throughout their own year without hockey. I understand the importance and dangers of the Covid-19 pandemic and I myself take the situation as serious as anyone can. Safety is a top priority, but it is clearly seen now that not only can hockey be played, it can be done so safely and responsibly as seen through the QMJHL, NCAA, USHL, and now starting soon the WHL. With all these leagues playing successfully throughout this time as a bystander watching from afar, waiting for the OHL to start, I can only fill my head with negative thoughts as they rush to my brain. Why is this guy playing and I’m not? Should I even keep skating? Should I just quit? You see the guys in leagues that are playing winning CHL stars of the week and we aren’t even on the ice? These are just a few of the many thoughts that can rush into an athlete’s mind making him feel depressed, anxious, and unmotivated.

For many of us playing in the OHL our main decision in driving us to choose this pathway was to give us the best possible chance in reaching the NHL. A dream that every young hockey player has had since they first witnessed the beautiful sport. For first year eligible players for the NHL draft, this was the year to take that huge first step towards that dream, and now for many of them they feel the dream slip away as other players are gaining more traction and exposure in the North American and European leagues that are currently allowed to play. This may lead to lots of negative thoughts and depression as I’ve witness firsthand players struggle with the negative thoughts that comes with not being able to play. Sports for a lot of young athletes are an escape from real world problems and issues that may be happening in their outside lives. Taking away that escape only allows these young athletes to fall into this negative hole that the entire world is in right now, with only one answer to get out of it… having a hockey season. For overagers in the league, this is their last chance at a season to play in the OHL and take one last stab at the dream and play with guys they have been playing with for the past four years. A lot of memories are made during an OHL season and I believe the overagers have plenty of fond ones and are like the rest of us just waiting to get back on the ice and play. A lot of overagers are fearful and sad to think that their last OHL games might have been March 2020.

“a lot of overagers get contracts during their OHL season and to maybe not have that opportunity hurts” Anonymous OHL player

“finding motivation has been the hardest part of this whole process, and finding my purpose throughout this year has been a struggle beyond words” Anonymous OHL player

“I’ve had lots of negative thoughts, and as the season gets pushed further and further back, that little hope I’ve been able to maintain slowly drifts away, especially seeing friends in other leagues playing during this time” Anonymous OHL player

“the big thing for me has been the abnormality of my daily routine with hockey and school, and coming to the rink every day to do something I love and have a great passion for, and it has caused me to kind of fall into a drought of negativity”  Anonymous OHL player

As a young athlete, hockey is an important aspect of our daily life, but another aspect sometimes forgotten about playing in the OHL, is schooling and education. For a lot of guys now a days there is a current struggle in deciding whether to go the major junior route or NCAA and the OHL from personal experience has a great education program and helps players very well academically. During a normal hockey season, university student athletes in the OHL only take about one to two classes during a season to manage time at the rink and away from it. During this pandemic and awaiting the return of OHL season, many university players have missed out on opportunities to take more classes than they originally could have during the season because of the waiting for a season to happen. Not only do us as players feel like we’re missing out on a hockey season, but now we feel as the whole year has been a waste with not furthering our academics. This is just another important reason why a season this year means the world to all of us waiting for a season, because of the many sacrifices we are making and have had made to get to this point in our careers, from the 5 A.M. wake ups on Sundays, and now today.

“This year has been very tough mentally; I think I can speak for all the players when I say there is probably nothing we’re not willing to do to make a season happen” Anonymous OHL player

In the recent weeks we have taken notice of the ongoing discussions in achieving an OHL season this year, and as hopes begin to rise again and passions are found, we cannot wait to hear the good news of a season arriving safely. I write this as a perspective point of view from a player waiting to have a season, in hopes that this fuels your discussions and determination to make a season happen as all of us players are in desperate need of one to occur. I thank you for taking the time to read this and hope that we can all make a safe return to the ice because we are all in this together.

Andrew Perrott

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