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Young NHL fan goes right to the top with ideas for reopening the league

And yes, Gary Bettman wrote back

A local hockey fan has gone straight to the top looking for answers on when the NHL will bring back the sport he loves.

And yes, the NHL wrote back.

Jax Brenneman recently sent a letter to Gary Bettman, commissioner of the National Hockey League, to ask when the NHL would be starting up again and to provide Bettman with some ideas on how to restart hockey safely during the pandemic.

“When does the NHL officially start?” asked Brenneman. “Will there be goal horns? Will the players hug after they score?”

The 10-year-old Collingwood boy has been playing hockey for four years, and plays left wing with Georgian Shores Lightning. He has loved hockey since he was four when he played mini sticks with his grandparents in their basement using boxes as makeshift nets.

“I really miss the games, so I would talk about how they could play during COVID with my mom and dad,” said Brenneman in an email. “My mom wanted me to practice my writing and she thought I could write about hockey because I love it.

"I want hockey to come back and Gary Bettman can help that happen," he said.

Along with his five questions about what an NHL game might look like, Brenneman provided some suggestions of his own, including fish bowl helmets for safety and virus containment.

“There should only be one player in the changeroom at a time,” wrote Brenneman. “Everyone in the arena should stay one large hockey stick apart except for the players on the ice … there should be holograms of the fans in the stands.”

Finally, he suggested an app fans could use at home to replace the kiss cam.

“But please, no kissing,” specified Brenneman’s letter.

Soon after sending his letter, Brenneman received a response signed by Bettman himself.

“We could use you on the committee planning how we will get the NHL back on the ice,” wrote Bettman on NHL letterhead.

“Your ideas are not only interesting and intriguing, some actually have been brought up in our discussions with the players,” he wrote. “You obviously know and love hockey.”

Bettman answered all five of Brenneman’s questions.

Unfortunately, he didn’t give away any secrets on when NHL players will be back on the ice.

“It is impossible for me to say, right now,” said Bettman, noting they are waiting for word from doctors and leaders for the all-clear.

As for goal horns, Bettman said it’s a good question, and they’ll need something to make noise in the arenas if fans aren’t allowed back at games right away.

Hugging to celebrate a goal will also be left up to doctors' advice, said Bettman.

“I’m sure that things like celebrations will be a little different, at least at the beginning,” wrote Bettman.

Brenneman was thrilled to get a response to his letter.

“It was really nice,” he said. “I was really excited to get it. I like that he answered all my questions and liked my ideas.”

He’s still eagerly anticipating the return of his favourite sport.

He said he’s missing playing on his team and watching hockey games, and, of course seeing the Stanley Cup.

“The writers of The Hockey News, one of my favourite magazines, thought Boston would win this year, but I’d really like to see Toronto win,” said Brenneman.

He’s a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, but only if you force him to choose one team; he says he has lots of favourite NHL players.

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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 15 years of experience as a local journalist
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