"OK boys listen up, we are going to let you guys get over to Gotham on your own, so carpool up and save your gas receipts, the team will reimburse you," the coach told his players after Thursday's practice. "Hey, no speeding and be careful, I'll meet you at the rink at 6:00 PM, so don't be late."
An hour before face-off, the coach is nervously looking at his watch, and working his phone, because his top line of forwards is over two-hours late and nobody is answering.
During the game and at the period breaks, the coach continues to try and reach his players without any luck. Later, back at the hotel, he gets the call from one of the parents and the news is not good; there has been a major accident with no survivors. Yes, all three boys were lost.
Why? Because some owner decided that a bus was not really needed for a 210 mile trip. I know, the standards say that the teams must provide transportation for any trip over 200 miles, but 210 is close enough, right?
Yes, accidents happen, but this type of tragedy is completely avoidable.
Fortunately, this is just an example of what could really happen. One can only hope that teams elect to operate above the board and deliver the safety measures that were promised to parents. The problem is there are always going to be one or two bad apples that feel that they are above the rules and will do anything to skate around them.
Parents naturally believe that USA Hockey will force teams into full compliance and that is exactly what was happening when Dave Tyler was overseeing the level of play. Enforcement of standards took a back seat somewhere along the way since.
Now with the level of play splintered, with the bulk of junior programs operating outside of USA Hockey, standards have taken a back seat to profits.
Violations of tier standards, and the team's end of the player agreement, are wide-spread and embarrassing. I can't help but wonder when enough is going to be enough. What is it going to take to get the leagues to force teams into maintaining their end of the bargain?
I just hope my kid is not in the car when the inevitable tragedy takes place. I also have to wonder how the owners and coaches will be able to sleep when it does.