With no training camp buzz, Kelowna Rockets try to stay busy

Rockets left to wait, hope

It's not a normal September for Kelowna Rockets president and GM Bruce Hamilton, or anyone else within the organization.

For the better part of four decades, Hamilton has spent early September in the midst of training camp, preparing for a new season.

But, COVID-19 has changed all that, forcing the team, and the league, to look at a possible restart in December.

So, gone, at least temporarily is the excitement, and nervous anticipation of training camp and the upcoming season.

"It's different," said Hamilton.

"We'd be right in into main camp. It would be an exciting time. We'd be getting ready to let the youngest guys go, and the coaches would be getting settled into the 30 guys that they would eventually work down to 23."

Hamilton says the challenge has been to stay relevant, and while the coaches have been holding zoom meetings with the players every two weeks, he knows they are frustrated.

"They're thoroughbreds, they want to get in the gate and run. Right now, the health boards are going to dictate when we are going to start."

The coaches have been staying busy, not only with occasional meetings with the players, but also holding Power Edge pro camps, a program the Rockets hold a franchise for.

They've been running one or two groups a week for about a month.

Hamilton says the office has been busy staying in touch with advertisers and also some of the senior season ticket holders, just to check in and see how they're doing.

The office has also been running shorter hours, but Hamilton admits come the end of September, that will change.

"It's time to get back and get some normalcy here," he says.

"We've got to get everybody feeling good about themselves...having a sense of getting something accomplished."

As for hockey itself, the league did announce last month its plan to begin a regular season in December.

But, Hamilton says, those decisions are ultimately made by the provincial health offices in each of the four provinces, and Washington and Oregon states.

"We can say what we want, but unless they decide it's good enough, it isn't going to mean anything.

'We've said a date that we hope, because we felt it was important that our players see something, and yet, they are going to decide probably in late October or early November whether that's a go or not."

If it is a go, Hamilton says players would begin arriving for a two week training camp before the season starts.

"From our side, if we get a two or three week notification that's what we've got," he says.

"I don't think it will take any of us to get fired up and ready to go."

It beats the "spooky" atmosphere he describes Prospera Place right now.

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