City of Toronto ends restrictions over recreational ice usage

The NHL city lifted restrictions after an early season lack of ice caused a league-wide shortage that forced some of its franchises to play without their home ice

Toronto city council has voted to relax recreational hockey rink rules that were meant to keep people from using winter arenas at other venues during the coldest months of the year.

The move follows a shortage of professional ice in the NHL capital in January that forced Toronto teams to play games outside and raised the spectre of cancelled seasons. Toronto reopened four of its 18 ice rinks as far as November but it did not end the problem.

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“Hopefully this will bring a spring back to our season,” Hockey Toronto interim president Sean McNeely said Wednesday in an interview.

Council voted 16-3 to lift restrictions that required an annual permit for recreational ice users who do not go through the city’s recreational ice agency, McNeely said.

The city also wants to find partnerships to provide more locations for recreational ice users, McNeely said.

Hockey’s season opened for real in the fall with the last weekend of October but the shortage of ice led to cancelations of the team’s preseason and regular-season opener.

The NHL has 27 teams that play in different cities across North America. Toronto is one of the divisions.

“The season ahead is a marathon and not a sprint, and we continue to plan for both,” commissioner Gary Bettman told the Canadian Press in February.

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