Paul Constantini has twin sons playing in the OHL. Marco is a goaltender with the Hamilton Bulldogs and Anthony is a defenseman with the Ottawa 67’s. Last week, Constantini, along with Dave D’Ammizio, sent a letter to Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Minister of Health Christine Elliott and OHL commissioner David Branch urging the start of the OHL season.
The letter has since been circulated online.
The letter read, in part:
“We are obviously mindful of the issues related to COVID-19 and recognize the ongoing need to protect the health of the public, including the most vulnerable members of our province.
“At the same time, our young men have patiently waited for some glimmer of hope that hockey would be able to continue. It has been a year since last season was cancelled, and since that time these young men have trained endlessly in the anticipation of a new start.
“Many of us are worried that if the season is cancelled once again, these young men may experience issues relative to their mental health. We know there are complex issues that need to be resolved.
“At the same time, leagues throughout North America and Europe are up and running, with the financial and health-care assistance of their respective governments.”
Constantini wrote that several leagues, including the WHL and USHL are playing, “Given that the OHL is the premier major junior hockey league in the world, we would hope that our boys would not be left behind,” he wrote.
OHL players have been balancing waiting for the league to open with possibly taking opportunities elsewhere. A few weeks ago, Mississauga forward Keean Washkurak signed with a team in Slovakia, just so he could have the opportunity to play.
The letter concluded with:
“Hockey is not just a sport for these young men. This is their passion as they aspire to be professional athletes. They have dedicated their lives to this sport and hope to make it their livelihood. For some young men this is their last year of eligibility. There will not be other opportunities for them.
“We know that the coaches, general managers, owners and team officials are all working tirelessly towards the opening of this season, and more importantly, ensuring that it does so in a safe manner that protects both the players, coaches, staff, and members of our communities.
For many the OHL is an integral part of their community. Hockey brings us all together. We hope that by letting hockey begin again, others will also benefit by bringing back some normalcy and needed distraction to their lives.
“We appreciate your consideration and efforts.”