He may not be wheeling around the ice at speeds he is used to, but for Gary McArthur it’s all relative. As long as he is on skates, McArthur is a happy man.
“I love to skate, I love to be on the ice, I love to be at the arena,” McArthur says to reinforce the point. He has played hockey since he was five years old, at various levels, and considers the rink his second home.
McArthur has now lived in Prince Rupert for four years after moving from Peterborough, Ont. A long time for some, but when taking into account groups such as the 75/50 club exist in town, McArthur is basically still a newcomer.
Work and family brought McArthur some 5,000 kilometres from the town just northeast of Toronto.
McArthur works as a driving supervisor for Gat Leedm here in town, with the relocation also putting him close to his daughter, son-in-law and grandkids.
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Upon arrival, McArthur quickly sought out the state of his sporting passion, hockey. He had hoped to find a league similar to that he had left in Ontario, where a group of players 55 and older would get together twice a week to play some pick-up puck. The opportunities available left him wanting however.
“When I got here I tried the recreation league, but it was too competitive for me,” McArthur said. “So I decided to start the Old Chums League.”
|(Alex Kurial / The Northern View)
The Old Chums League is exactly what it sounds like. “Has been, wanna be, too old, too tired; guys that still want to play and have a skate and get out in the arena can still do that,” McArthur describes the league as.
McArthur believes it is important for players of all ages to have an arena where they can come out and play. McArthur even discovered how his approach to the game itself evolved with time.
“As you get older you find out that the competition isn’t as important as the exercise and just being at the arena, so that’s the highlight,” McArthur said. “Whether we have three guys or we have 30 guys, I get the same thing out of it.”
The league is made up of an assortment of players of various ages and skill levels, all who have a home on the ice even after the days of certain competitive leagues have passed by. Turnout is good, aided this year by a coveted ice slot of Saturday nights.
“It’s strictly fun, we don’t have rules, we don’t have offsides, we don’t call penalties,” McArthur explained. “Strictly just for guys to have fun and have a good time and work up a sweat.”
|Like his fellow chums, McArthur has no plan to hang up his skates anytime soon.(Alex Kurial / The Northern View)
McArthur is hoping that the league can attract the attention of Ron MacLean and Tara Slone when Hometown Hockey comes to Prince Rupert in December. A quick skate on the ice is the goal while the crew is in town.
McArthur finds himself quite content in his new home. He has his family, work, and thanks to him and others who helped make the Old Chums league a reality, a place where McArthur and others can play hockey at their own pace.
“What I hope is that what I start today will still be here 20 years from now,” McArthur said. “I hope that I can stay at it as long as I can bend over and tie up my skates.”
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Alex Kurial | Sports Reporter
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