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An Update From the NYSAHA Board of Directors: Jan. 19, 2021
Please allow this correspondence to serve as an informal update regarding the current legal challenge pertaining to amateur ice hockey. The New York State Amateur Hockey Association, Inc. (“NYSAHA”) has retained the law firm of HoganWillig, PLLC to challenge the arbitrary and capricious nature of the restrictions imposed against NYSAHA and its members, and the sport of ice hockey more generally. The State of New York, and its empowered agencies, arbitrarily classified ice hockey as a high-risk sport for viral transmission of COVID-19, contrary to scientific evidence establishing that ice hockey poses no increased risk of transmission. As you are aware, the classification of ice hockey as “high risk” has resulted in NYSAHA’s seasons being suspended, indefinitely, and the prohibition on NYSAHA from engaging in any activities beyond “individual or distanced group training and organized no/low-contact group training.” The restrictions have also prohibited competitive tournaments which require travel.
On April 26, 2020, Governor Cuomo announced a phased approach (“New York Forward”) to reopen certain industries and businesses in New York, based primarily upon a data-driven, regional analysis. Pursuant to the New York Forward Guidelines relating to sports and recreation, effective July 6, 2020, and as determined by the New York State Department of Economic Development d/b/a Empire State Development Corporation (the “ESDC”), higher-risk non-professional and non-collegiate sports and recreation activities, including ice hockey, were determined to be the most unlikely to maintain physical distance, as there is a decreased ability to: (1) avoid touching of shared equipment; (2) clean/disinfect equipment between uses by different individuals; and/or (3) not use shared equipment at all. The New York Forward Guidelines established that independent youth sports teams in New York State were (and still are) precluded from organizing, attending, and hosting games, meets, matches, scrimmages, organized leagues, or pick-up sports. Moreover, independent youth sports teams are prohibited from organizing, attending, and hosting competitive tournaments of multiple games, meets, matches or scrimmages requiring travel.
The New York State Department of Health, as of August 15, 2020, released “Interim Guidance for Sports and Recreation During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency” (the “Interim Guidance”), which provided precautions to help protect against the spread of COVID-19. The Interim Guidance classified ice hockey as a “high-risk sport,” and established that participants in higher risk sports and recreation activities may only partake in individual or distanced group training and no/low-contact group training. Given the foregoing, many amateur ice hockey programs have been banned from competing this year.
Presently, NYSAHA’s legal team is in the process of composing the Petition and its supporting documents, with the intention that the lawsuit will be filed imminently, likely this week. Significantly, and upon belief, the restrictions now imposed upon NYSAHA, and its members, are without any scientific or otherwise credible basis, and without any ascertainable link between playing ice hockey and an increase in COVID-19 cases. The data provided to HoganWillig by NYSAHA has been useful in formulating the factual and legal arguments which will ultimately compose the legal papers advocating for the resumption of athletic activities in New York State, and specifically, the recommencement of amateur ice hockey.
It has always been our mission to promote the best possible experience for all participants in NYSAHA, while working in concert with USA Hockey. We hope this legal challenge advances NYSAHA’s commitment to encouraging, developing, advancing, and administering the sport of ice hockey. Thank you for your consideration.
Islanders Offering Fan Cutout Discount to Local Hockey Community
The New York Islanders are offering members of the local ice hockey community an opportunity to be part of the action for the upcoming NHL 2021 season with a discounted “Fan Cutout” at the arena.
Don’t miss this unique opportunity to support the team and the Islanders Children’s Foundation as they line the arena with cutouts of their biggest supporters.
The Islanders are seeking all local youth hockey players, teams, rinks, figure skaters and their family members to join in the “Fan Cutout” program, and have created a special link that provides a small discount to members of the local hockey community. The discount will appear in the “Cart” upon checkout.
The Islanders are urging anyone who is submitting a photo to be in their hockey uniform to support local organizations, facilities and rinks.
Click here for more information and details to become part of the New York Islanders “Fan Cutout” program.
L.I. Senators Urge Gov. Cuomo to Re-Categorize Ice Hockey
Long Island Republican State Sens. Anthony Palumbo, Mario Mattera, Alexis Weik and Phil Boyle have sent a letter to New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo requesting that he immediately re-categorize youth ice hockey’s risk level from “high” to “moderate.” This move would allow local ice rinks to host non-checking games.
The Senators argue that this simple change will help Long Island’s ice rinks survive the economic hardship created by the pandemic, while ensuring that the tradition of youth hockey continues throughout the region.
“Ice rinks throughout Long Island have taken necessary precautions to ensure that non-checking ice hockey can be played in a safe environment,” said Sen. Palumbo. “By simply re-categorizing youth hockey from ‘high’ risk to ‘moderate,’ we can help save these struggling businesses and provide enjoyment for the Long Island’s youth hockey players and their families. It’s a win-win for the region and our residents during these difficult times.”
The most profitable time of the year for ice rinks is December through February and the revenue generated at those times helps sustain their businesses year-round. This re-classification is reasonable and appropriate, as the Governor allows non-checking roller hockey games to be played as long as the participants and facility are following guidelines.
"Ice rinks play an important role in our community,” said Sen. Weik. “It is imperative we do everything we can to ensure these small businesses can survive. These rinks have proven they can follow all State and CDC required protocols to keep competitors, fans and employees safe. By designating youth hockey as a ‘moderate’ risk sport, our young competitors can once again play sports and the rinks will have an opportunity to sustain their business.”
Currently, many of the region’s ice rinks follow state recommendations and have implemented protocols for safe play, which include: wearing masks at all times, no checking, limiting the number of players on a team and limiting spectators.
“As a life-long hockey fan, I join my colleagues in urging the Governor to protect the economic vitality of ice rinks on Long Island and throughout New York State. Hockey can be played safely following appropriate guidelines, and New York should follow the lead of other states in allowing it,” said Sen. Boyle.
Sen. Palumbo added, “Our local ice rinks have strictly adhered to New York State’s safety measures and as a result, none of these facilities have had to shut down due to COVID-19 exposure or outbreak. Clearly, our ice rinks are doing everything they can do to ensure a safe environment. I urge Gov. Cuomo to make this simple change to help these struggling businesses survive and allow non-checking ice hockey to be played on Long Island.”
Click here to see the full letter from the Office of Sen. Palumbo.
NYSAHA Retains Law Firm to Fight for Resumption of Ice Hockey
The New York State Amateur Hockey Association (NYSAHA) Board of Directors has announced that it has retained the services of the law firm of Amherst, N.Y.-based Hogan Willig for the purposes of filing legal action against New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo to obtain a court ruling that will allow the resumption of hockey in New York State.
Nassau County Hockey will keep you updated as the matter moves through the system and provide updates when available.
Click here to read the official memo from NYSAHA regarding this matter.
Nassau County Hockey will be offering its logo apparel via online provider Squad Locker. All orders can be submitted online, using the Nassau County Hockey logo. Click on the logo below to begin your Squad Locker experience.