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 gretzky.com.

"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. There. Are. No. Gods!

    We have had an backyard rink here in North East for the past 4 years, this is the first year it has been too warm to build one. Every year sense 2008 the weather has been gradually getting warmer making the rink less stable. I have skated no where out doors this year, I think something is happening. Might be time to wake up. There. Are. No. Gods!

    March 6, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Floyd

      If there are no Gods, then why are there snow angels? Huh? Huh? Gotcha there!

      March 6, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Have you paid attention to Europe or Alaska this year? Why is it that people believe that if things aren't stable and the same year after year that it proves something. Less than 1 degree Celsius in roughly 200 years is pretty stable.

      March 6, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. wow

    Learn to spell !

    March 6, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cecil

      It was a typo. Deal with it.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. David

    First of all, it's proven. Second, deal with it.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      its proven your so funny, its a Hypothesis at this point in time. If All scientists agreed then there would be no argument, Problem is there are scientists who disagree, Also the world isnt doing what these Climate change scientists have said it would, the pesky old world isnt cooperating, The Global temperature has been cooling lately and that's a big downer if your a climate change scientist. But if your a Lib who is pushing an agenda you ignore these things and shout down the opposition.

      March 6, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Luigi

      Greg, posting this after you (almost certainly) saw Amused asking someone else to cite references.

      Please name one scientist that disagrees with global warming. I'm confident they exist. I'm asking you to name one since you said "there are scientists who disagree." (Note how I said "confident. Don't have to name a source if you use "confident.")

      March 6, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • uh

      You're a liar. The temperatures are warming. We just had the hottest decade on record. NASA versus "greg". Hmmm, so difficult to choose.

      March 6, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Climate_scientis

      >The Global temperature has been cooling lately and that's a big downer if your a climate change scientist.

      WRONG! I am a climate scientist and the FACTS are:

      Nine of the top ten warmest years in the modern meteorological record have occurred since the year 2000. Last year was another one of them, coming in at 9th warmest since 1880.

      I guess it sucks when the lies you make up can be refuted by FACTS!

      March 6, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      If you are so sure and proud you should actually use your real name. How long have records been kept?

      March 6, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • rufusclyde

      Nope. NOAA and NASA have the data. The average temperature of the earth is warming, not cooling. Moreover, the ponds I used to play hockey on as a kid in SE New York State no longer freeze solidly enough for skating.

      March 6, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • damniel

      Those that disagree with global warming (which accounts for a very small part of the scientific community) are not scientists. They are magicians. They can pull facts and data right out of thin air! The only possible room for real debate are the causes of global warming.

      March 6, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gannt

      Explain to me why North Dakota is having record heat waves throughout the entirety of winter? There literally hasn't been a single weak where a small chance of snow that actually falls gets melted away in two days.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • morans

      are you kidding me? cooling lately? you're probably one of those conservatives who gets their data from glen beck

      March 6, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kay Z

      So-called “global warming” is just a secret ploy by wacko tree-huggers to make America energy independent, clean our air and water, improve the fuel efficiency of our vehicles, kick-start 21st-century industries, and make our cities safer and more livable. Don’t let them get away with it! - Chip Giller

      March 7, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      First of all, the computer models they are using have long been discredited, and can't even show where we are today using date from previous years. Second, stop drinking that kool-aid.

      March 6, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Natfka

      man made global warming is not proven. In fact the latest so called scientific climate change studies are saying now that global warming is actually causing the earth to cool. These crackpots need to get some real science. We want cold hard facts, readily proven and able to be duplicated.

      March 6, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack O'Fall

      proven is an abstract concept in science.
      'Confirmed by many experiments, but still open for further clarification' is about as strong as you can get in science. Including 'gravity'.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  4. AC

    My son will be 4 this fall and I can't wait to make a rink for us.. if the weather allows it. I never could have imagined we'd be facing such a crisis. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of shinny hockey on the rink my dad made and also on the pond at our school. Now kids will just play it on Nintendo instead O_o *grabs his hockey stick and goes off to fight global warming*

    March 6, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. FedUpWithBigGovernment

    This is the BEST global warming hoax story yet... Fear mongering: no more hockey FOR THE CHILDREN

    March 6, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Go ahead, keep listening to those oil-company subsidized "scientists' claiming it's a hoax. You are clearly a moron.

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

      What kind of reasonable person could simply dissmiss anything that doesn't fit into his narrative as propoganda? Tell my father, who lives in rural Manitoba and has seen his snowmobile season shrink year after year that he has succommed to the liberal propoganda.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • tryscience

      You don't know how science works. You write as if the evidence for global warming comes from one source. (The e-mails etc that you cite have been proven to have no effect on that source's conclusions.) But, really, the evidence for warming comes from thousands of sources and mountains of evidence. You need to read the science from real scientists. Real scientists have no agenda other then the truth. What I don't understand is your paranoia and willingness to believe junk science.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Everyone knows that the liberals just produce all this science in some big science factory, and then try to force it on us all

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

      Real scientists are those you happen to agree with, all the rest are not real.......interesting point. doesnt help your position, sounds like the Wizard telling Dorthy to disregard the man behind the curtain.

      March 6, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Irene

    Gee, I thought all terrorists were right wing religious fanatics: 911, Oklahoma City, Waco, Bali Bombings, etc... The fact that you believe that "liberal terrorists" are responsible for scientific data on climate change proves that you need to get out of the gene pool because we can't fix stupid!

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

      They (Liberals), are responsible for false, misleading propaganda. It's what they do. You can't change the way things work.

      March 6, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Portland tony

    The earth is getting warmer, if only by a few degrees annually. What's causing this...Well there's a debate between the scientific community and politicians on the cause. Knowing that scientists probably have less to gain in this war of words, I'm betting they are closer to the real truth than the professional pols. Then too...take a walk on the "frozen tundra" and you will sink to your knees and not because you have had a religious experience. God or nature has given the human race time to face this planetary warming and this warming is not going
    away in our lifetime. Ignore it..deny it or just live with it. The choice is ours!

    March 6, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Uruk-hai

      Weird because just last year here in Inidana, we had one of the coldest winters ever, where i never got above freezing for more than 3 months. In fact it snowed for the entire month of Feb 2011. After going through that, I can't wait to get all the global warming they keep promising us!

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

      Actually, government and University scientists are always trying to get grant money to conduct rsearch – so they actually do have something to gain by setting off alarms.

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

    There ought to be a minimum IQ required to own an internet connection.

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

      I use my neighbor's wireless. He's really smart!

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

      I love it!

      March 6, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Glow Ball War Ming

    On the other hand, Halifax could benefit from climate change by becoming the new Miami Beach!

    March 6, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. dzerres

    Oh no. What about all those little ice fishing huts sitting out on frozen lakes? Maybe the threat of thinning ice which will effect backyard hockey, ice fishing, ice trucking, cutter racing and snow mobiling will finally wake up some, not all, of the deniers.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • FedUpWithBigGovernment

      LOL... yes... the next article will read "ICE FISHERMAN FALLS THROUGH thin ICE because of AGW".... or
      Children will no longer be able to have snowball fights because of AGW...
      These stories just keep getting more bizarre and absurd to try to convince us / scare us into believing this crap.
      The funny thing is that the more outlandish and fantastical these stories get.. the more people are beginning to see that it is a bunch of BUNK. Let us see how the AGW group is going to explain this next long period of cooling we are seeing...
      I bet that is 'expected' from their models too. The AGW group has made their argument so that "if you sneeze' it is because of AGW.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      they have to get this thru before that happens, If the global cooling trend continues thru 2015 there toast and they know it.

      March 6, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. leeintulsa

    uncle rush has you programmed well. if an article has the words 'global' and 'warming', it's all lies. no research necessary.

    surely a fat, pill-popping 'entertainer' knows what he's talking about. all tubs of goo are issued a book with all the answers at birth..

    March 6, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. FedUpWithBigGovernment

    Man... the CLIMATEGATE hucksters are really pulling out all of the stops.. SAVE HOCKEY FOR THE CHILDREN...
    This is so absurd .. I am still rolling on the floor laughing.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      yea this one had a touch of hysteria to it ! I actually busted out laughing.

      March 6, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. hmm

    well at least there are indoor rinks

    March 6, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jimmyd

    liberal terrorists–don't you love it? Creationism probably fits in here nicely. BTW, science doesn't deal in "proof" it works with supporting evidence. The evidence supporting climate change is overwhelming. The arguments against it are not based in science, they are based in some emotional interpretation of religion. Deal with it.

    March 6, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. devosays

    Wow, the liberal mind is a strange, demented thing.... Climate change is nothing more than global weather patterns shifting, which they have done for millions of years.... Last year we could have played hockey outside in my city the whole winter, this year we couldn't, next year who knows... Climate change is something liberals write about because they try to make everything a social concern.... lol, the sky is falling!!!

    March 6, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      And by liberals of course, you mean scientists

      March 6, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • kd

      The very thing you are describing is proof of climate change. Sheesh.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
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