Condors special needs hockey players banned from tournament
Players with the Capital City Condors special needs hockey club have been uninvited from playing in a tournament next weekend.
Condors founder Jim Perkins, said it's a day he never thought he'd see; players with disabilities turned away by their peers.
"This was always the place where that never happened. This was the safest place, because everybody is the same." said Perkins at the Jack Charron Arena in Kanata.
Perkins said a recent ruling by the Ontario Hockey Federation (OHF) banned a few of the Condors, who require special equipment on the ice using devices like the Kaye Trainer; which enables players with physical disabilities to stand on two feet.
The Condors said the whole controversy started late last year when they were informed by the organizer of the Kitchener Friendship tournament she'd received a letter from the OHF to ban players from participating in games should they require used of assisted devices and equipment.
The ruling is so upsetting; parents haven't told their kids why they won't be participating in the tournament next weekend.
"Their absolute highlight is going to tournaments and playing against other teams and so they're being precluded from doing so because of some ruling none of us really understand." said parent Mark Jamensky, whose child has played with the Condors for more than 8 years.
Jim Stackhouse, whose son, Cam, plays defence said parents have a hard time understanding how the governing bodies for special needs hockey can be so exclusive; standing by the Condors mantra of including all players.
"The motto of everyone plays or no one plays, and that's how it should be!" said Stackhouse.
In the meantime, the Condors said they won't be playing in tournaments run by Canadian National Special Hockey; which Perkins said has changed its tune on incorporating adaptive hockey players to leagues for athletes with intellectual disabilities.
"We've actually had parents reply right away saying, thank you for not going to that, because we really wouldn't want to support something that is exclusive." said Perkins.
Over the years, the Condors, have skated alongside the Ottawa Senators stars; including Matt Carkner, Mark Borowiecki and Kyle Turris.
In March, the Condors will travel to a tournament in Nashville; where Turris now plays for the NHL's Predators.
The condors lawyer saying they're considering file a human rights complaint against the Ontario Hockey Federation and Hockey Canada.
"It's not fair, equal opportunity right, this is a canadian value, why are we all of a sudden deciding to restrict it to some of the kids?" said parent Diane Allard; whose son plays goalie.
"You see the kids out here playing today, all the kids are playing, they're having fun and that's the whole part of this, it's bigger than hockey." said Stackhouse.
Neither Hockey Canada nor the Ontario Hockey Federation responded to requests for comment.