Study claims possible end to Canada's outdoor pastime
Young players listen to a coach's instructions in North Bay, Ontario, during the 1953 filming of the documentary "Here's Hockey."
March 6th, 2012
11:18 AM ET

Study claims possible end to Canada's outdoor pastime

A Canadian icon could face extinction in the coming decades, researchers say.

A study by scientists at McGill and Concordia universities says rising temperatures are reducing the availability of frozen ponds, which eventually could mean the end of outdoor hockey.

The headlines are dire:

"Global warming could spell the end of Canada's outdoor hockey rink," reads one from the National Post.

"Thin ice: Canada's outdoor rinks face meltdown," reports The (Montreal) Gazette.

"Climate change melting backyard hockey rinks," The Record in Waterloo, Ontario, says.

"Outdoor ice hockey could perish in some areas," reads The Spectator in Hamilton, Ontario.

"Outdoor skating rinks threatened by climate change," the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reports.

The men behind the science are Lawrence A. Mysak and Nikolay Damyanov of McGill University and H. Damon Matthews of Concordia University.

They looked at data from 142 meteorological reporting stations across Canada from 1951 to 2005 and came to this conclusion: "We would expect all regions of Canada to see a decreased viability of outdoor skating under continued winter climate warming."

And in the case of southwest Canada, the number of days where outdoor ponds are viable for skating, and, in turn, hockey, could be zero by the middle of the century, the scientists report in a paper published this week in the Institute of Physics journal Environmental Research Letters.

“It’s hard to imagine a Canada without outdoor hockey, but I really worry that this will be a casualty of our continuing to ignore the climate problem and to obstruct international efforts to decrease greenhouse gas emissions,” Matthews said in a statement.

Mysack hints that the fate of the nation is imperiled.

“The disappearance of outdoor hockey rinks and probably cross-country ski trails is not going to be good for the health of our youth and the leaders of tomorrow, who need all the exercise they can easily get,” he said in the statement.

Canadian media are surely as worried.

"Shorter Canadian winters could well mean no more Wayne Gretzkys," The Record begins its story on the report. Gretzky is a four-time winner of the Stanley Cup as a National Hockey League champion and a nine-time winner of the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player.

What did the outdoor hockey rink mean to Gretzky? Read on from the website

"When he was 6 years old, his father, Walter, built a rink in the family's backyard, and it was there that Wayne skated for hours on end, every day, practi(c)ing his skating, shooting and stickhandling and learning everything about the game from his dad."

Of course, the researchers pretty much stoked that fire.

"Wayne Gretzky learned to skate on a backyard skating rink; our results imply that such opportunities may not available to future generations of Canadian children," their study concluded.

And Matthews, in an interview with The Toronto Star, admits an agenda on what has been a politically divisive issue in Canada and around the world. Current Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is an avid hockey enthusiast.

“It’s certainly a motivation for me in doing the study,” the Star quotes Matthews as saying.

“Canada is lagging behind the rest of the world” in efforts to fight climate change, he also told the paper.

But, at least to some Canadians, the decline of outdoor hockey is old news.

In its article on the report, The Vancouver Sun asks, "Is outdoor skating in Canada doomed to become what it always has been here in Vancouver: non-existent?"

And in a CBC poll on outdoor skating, the No. 1 response to the question "How has your outdoor skating changed in recent years?" is, "A lot. I can't remember the last time we had a proper outdoor rink."

He shoots! He sinks!

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Filed under: Canada • Hockey • Sports
soundoff (267 Responses)
  1. BOMBO ©

    The climate change nazis are really stretching now. Sacrifice your credibility? Some researchers don't care.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Their voodoo science has finally come home to roost...the veil has been lifted to reveal the truth about human induced climate is a totally fabricated myth formulated by liberals as a lever of control. According to ALGORE and his minions we were all supposed to be under water by now. One problem, temperatures aren't actually rising.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • FedUpWithBigGovernment

      Andrew: all you need to do is read the CLIMATE GATE emails from the 'researchers' and it quickly becomes apparent that they are MANIPULATING the data to support their theories.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Investigations into "climategate" concluded that researchers had not been skewing their results, and the global scientific consensus that global warming exists remains unchanged. I think I'll listen to all of the scientists in the world before you

      March 6, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • FedUpWithBigGovernment

      They INVESTIGATED THEMSELVES.... they don't want the $$$ to stop flowing to their 'research'. Man.. do some critical thinking here.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      They were actually investigated by multiple scientific organizations

      March 6, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Big Bob

    So play indoors like the Americans do.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. The Truth Is

    These people are incredibly stupid. Hockey isn't real. Morons.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO ©

      Okay, you're onto us. Hockey was invented by the CIA based on artifacts recovered from the Roswell crash site. As part of a conspiracy concocted with the Canadian government, the "game" was played to distract the old Soviet Union from their plans for world domination. No humans actually play hockey here in Canada. Those are just robots. They all resemble one another, except Jarome Iginla, who was left in the heating mold too long and got somewhat burned.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Truth Is

      Your information is worthless and obviously you don't know anything about the realy reals of the interwebs. Hockey was invented by the CIA, but it was only created as a cover for the eventual story they would devise when Obama was born to make him look like he isn't really a covert alien working with the Commies to mine the world's gold with stolen children that are stored in a base under the Denver airport. And if you weren't a total Harper shill you would know perfectly well that Jarome Iginla doesn't look like the rest because he is really Mike Tyson on an undercover job for the lamestream media to help wake up the public to the involvement of Syria in the building of millions of FEMA death camps to keep your grandmother in. Jeez.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO ©

      Wait, are we talking about the good aliens or the bad aliens? Because when the CIA shot down (yes it WAS shot down, it did not crash) that spaceship over Roswell, they precipitated a short, secret war against the good, hockey playing aliens, when the whole time it was the bad, pharmaceutical producing aliens who were the real enemy. Obama is one of the good aliens, and it really bothers me when people like you imply that he is one of the bad aliens.

      Also, Vladimir Ovechkin is NOT an alien. He is just insane.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jarome Iginla

      To set the record straight, I am NOT Mike Tyson, I am NOT a robot, nor am I an alien. I am a human being, born in St Albert, Alberta. I play hockey for a living. I am, however, Craig Charles in a side career. I played Lister on the British comedy Red Dwarf. Don't believe me? Google my pictures, and judge for yourselves.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Truth Is

      I'm talking about the same aliens that built HARRP so they could win Hockey games by causing earthquakes at random locations around the world at random times. It's common knowledge this is done to psyche out all the other teams, driving their focus to mishappenings around the world rather than the game they are playing. If you think they are the good aliens than you are no better than those fat-cat teachers lining their pockets every day with your tax dollars.

      I don't know who this Vladimir Ovechkin person is, but if they are missing one front tooth it's a pretty sure bet that they are cohorts of the evil alien overlords. Be on the lookout for that.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vicki

      BOMBO: LOL. From one Oilers fan to another (I was guessing you were an Oilers fan), thanks for the laugh.

      March 6, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. bruno

    I'm a Canadian and it is sad to know this information. Canadians will now need to play indoor ice hockey!! Man will once again adapt!

    March 6, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. BOMBO ©

    Doing it. Most indoor arenas have the ice 12 months now, due to demand for ice time. That wasn't the case a decade ago. Hockey is growing in Canada, despite weather patterns.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Brian

    No one plays on them anyways, everything is in doors these days.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Not exact, certainly. Still far more precise than the degenerate ranting of froth-mouthed conservative pundits and politicians

      March 6, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Sorry, responded to the wrong comment

      March 6, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Anon

    this "climate change" garbage has to end. As if humans are arrogant enough to think we can actually make an impact overall. It's stupid to believe so. Did you know that weather patterns still circle the poles as their centerpoint? Did you also know that the north pole is now located in SIBERIA some 1000 miles south? Don't take my word for it just look at the geosynchronous weather satellites over our poles and watch the rotation. The Earth's tilt has changed. Stop falling for bunk science for and against the media propaganda and do you own research. Science is as much a business as oil and cars these days. Don't get suckered into some propaganda that coincidently helps governments control people.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • timmy

      to think humans have absolutely zero impact on our climate is not only arrogant, but IGNANT as well. This planet was not made for 7 BILLION humans pillaging its natural resources continually

      March 6, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      amen brother, these liberals worship at the alter of pseudo-science and call themselves intellectuals when in fact they just picked a different God and follow it blindly, without question

      March 6, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Actually Brian every scientist in the world agrees that climate change is very real. Moreover, science is not exactly a religion

      March 6, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • FedUpWithBigGovernment

      Andrew: You lie! EVERY SCIENTIST does NOT believe that it is real... will you please stop spreading these untruths... There have been plenty of scientists that have come out (some from MIT) that denounce the AGW theories! STOP SPREADING LIES and DECEIT.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      You're right, I mispoke; rather, there is a worldwide scientific consensus that global warming exists

      March 6, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Andrew, I think you mean science is not exact.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Not exact; still more precise than the degenerate ramblings on rabid conservative politicians and pundits

      March 6, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew


      March 6, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Da Moose

    Kinda Catch

    How much carbon is produced by Zambonis, Refrigeration machines and A/C to cool the indoor rinks year round?

    March 6, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. content_pessimest

    The problem with the environmentalists is that they have the conceit to think that we humans can be a threat to this earth. The planet has been through a lot worse than us humans. It’s been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drifts, solar flares, sunspots, magnetic reversal of the poles, bombardment by meteors, floods, tidal waves, fires, erosion, cosmic rays, reoccurring ice ages and you think that some plastic bags and aluminum cans are going to make a difference. If you want to know how the planets doing, just ask those people at Pompeii that are frozen in time by volcanic ash. I don’t think they were a threat to the planet. If its true that certain chemicals and products are not biodegradable, after were long gone, the earth will just incorporate them into its new system,” The Earth Plus Plastic”. The earth doesn’t share your prejudice of plastic etc...

    George Carlin

    March 6, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Douglas

    Are you kidding me with this article? Last time I checked it's pretty damn cold in Canada during the winter months. One year of a mild winter in NYC everyone screams Global Warming. Yet, last winter when we had a lot of snow nobody talked of about Global warming. One more thing to get off my chest. How come everyone listens to people who preach about Global warming but the people who denounce it are stupid? hmmmmmm

    March 6, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Because basically every scientist in the world agrees that global warming is happening

      March 6, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO ©

      I'm a scientist, and I will only agree that weather patterns have been changing in the short term. I will NOT however jump to the conclusion that mankind is to blame. Weather has actually been extremely unstable during other periods in Earth's past, thousands and even millions of years ago. We just have come through several centuries of stable weather, and have been spoiled by it. It may be that things will become much more unstable, no matter what we do. This could all be natural.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • FedUpWithBigGovernment

      Exactly Douglas.... and do you notice how when the 'weather' supports AGW they like to cite it (i.e. an abnormally warm summer, tornadoes, hurricanes).. however.. when there are weather patterns that don't support it (i.e. a particularly nasty blizzard)...then the story is "weather is different from climate". The arguments are as 'selective' as the data that the FRAUDS from CRU and East Anglia University and Michael Mann at Penn State (yes.. that very same illustrious university that hid the horrific child abuse by Sandusky just to protect their football program).

      March 6, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Douglas

    Are you kidding me with this article? Last time I checked it's pretty damn cold in Canada during the winter months. One year of a mild winter in NYC everyone screams Global Warming. Yet, last winter when we had a lot of snow nobody talked of about Global warming. One more thing to get off my chest. How come everyone listens to people who preach about Global warming but the people who denounce it are stupid? hmmmmmm

    March 6, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Meki60

    dumbest thing I've ever heard

    March 6, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. lolol

    this is the most stupid article I;ve ever read

    March 6, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Meki60

    United Morons Delegation

    March 6, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. APHID

    Bigger problems that climate change that are taking the game out of Canada such as cost of playing and changing population demographics that come without any knowledge or interest in the game. Pasttime may change but not because of weather, it's just always colder in Canada that most other places worldwide. I would suppose the same argument holds for the Russians, but their game has been so irrelevant for so long due to other pasttime changes such cost of living and general interest in the sport itself!

    March 6, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
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