Gary Mcarthur has been playing hockey for as long as he can remember, and he doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon.
Sure the laces may take a little longer to tie up and his strides may not be as powerful, but even in his sixties Mcarthur knows it’s all about the fun of the game.
He only moved to Prince Rupert a couple of years ago but Mcarthur knows this community has a love of hockey, one that he wants to be shared, no matter the age or the skill level.
This season, Mcarthur is setting out to create an all-ages all skill levels “League”, but don’t tell him that its a league.
“It’s a hockey get together more than anything, let’s get out and have some fun. If we end up with ten teams well so be it, but to start it’s for anyone who wants to come out for some recreational time and some fun.”
The “Old Chums hockey group”, as Mcarthur pegged it, is meant to be inviting to all, a way for people to get out and enjoy Canada’s game without having to be a pro. Mcarthur said that the men’s league already in place in Prince Rupert is a great league but a little too high octane for people his age.
“There’s a large variety of ages, with lots of young guys and older guys, and sometimes it gets too intense for us older people or people who have not played a lot of hockey in their life,” Mcarthur said.
The games are played without refs, whistles or worries — just simply hockey. Mcarthur said it’s important to foster a camaraderie in the game and that is what his league aims to do.
“It shows compassion, nobody wants to get hurt, the older you get the easier it is to get hurt. So if you knock someone down, you stop and ask ‘hey are you okay?’” Mcarthur said.
Mcarthur, who had formed a similar league in his hometown of Bobcaygeon, Ontario, has spent most of his life around the game and saw the need for something similar in Prince Rupert.
The original “old chums league” was a group of close friends who would strap on the shoulder pads, lace up the skates and head out of the local rink twice a week. They played not to rekindle old dreams of competing in the NHL that had long since burned out, they played for the love of the game and to stay healthy.
There was something about that old chums league that was different to Mcarthur, special. He had been playing in the league for a few years before moving to Prince Rupert, and in all his time playing he always knew that whenever he was down his teammates would be there to pick him up.
“If I knock you down I help you up and you would do the same for me,” Mcarthur said.
Mcarthur knows recreating such a special league will be hard, but he wants everyone to know that the old chums are always looking for new chums to hit the ice with.
The so-called Old Chums league plays every Monday morning between 6:00 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.
Mcarthur knows the time slot makes it bit harder for people but he hopes the love of the game will draw people in.
“If we get enough people on the ice maybe we can change our time, but if we can get up and motivated on Monday morning at six to seven a.m. it isn’t a bad way to start your week,” Mcarthur said.
The ice is open and welcoming to all who join.