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More Bad News for Leafs & Flames Fans


Research just published by McGill and Concordia University alarmists in the popular weather comic Environmental Research Letters has Canadian ice-hockey fans sitting up and taking notice: in their paper Observed decreases in the Canadian outdoor skating season due to recent winter warming, the authors defined criteria for the beginning (3 consecutive daytime highs at or below -5C) and length of the outdoor ice-hockey season and determined that since 1951 many locations, particularly in SW and Central Canada, showed statistically significant decreases. Projecting the most extreme trend, that for the SW, into the future suggests the region’s outdoor hockey rinks could be ice-free by mid-century.

The implications of this are potentially devastating for Canadian hockey. Many past and current heroes of the sport, including the great Gretzky, spent their formative years honing their checking and fighting techniques (as well as the less important stick-handling and skating capabilities) on backyard or neighborhood outdoor ice rinks. If those facilities are no longer available, critical Canadian hockey skills will be lost. In fast-melting SW and Central Canada, there is evidence that the situation has already become critical: the Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs have consistently played like crap for the last few seasons.

Reaction among Calgary hockey fans has been predictably swift. Our informal polling indicates that a majority of them now view global warming as a problem of national pride that needs to be urgently addressed if the National Hockey League’s domination by American teams is not to become complete. They have also provided numerous suggestions to combat the problem, from the silencing of gasbag commentator Don Cherry to carbon sequestration in NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who evidently has plenty of room for it. When we asked whether they’d stop driving their pickups to the games, however, they called us commies and threw empty beer cans at us.

One of the paper’s authors said he and his fellow researchers “knew this would be an issue that would resonate with Canadians,” and called it a “fortuitous coincidence” that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not only a well-known “hockey enthusiast” but is also a Calgary native. He further expressed hope that the grim outlook for outdoor hockey rinks might “push the Conservative government to take action” to preserve its Alberta power base and increase its popularity in Ontario by curbing Canada’s contribution to global carbon dioxide emissions, widely seen by unfunded Canadian scientists as a key driver of climate change.