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Que. hockey team and young Jewish Orthodox player find compromise

NHL.com @NHL

GATINEAU, Que. (CP) - An Orthodox Jewish hockey player and his junior team have reached a compromise that will let him play while keeping his faith.

Benjamin Rubin, 18, will play games during the Sabbath but will skip the matches of the Gatineau Olympiques during sacred religious holidays. "He just decided it was time to get serious with his hockey and he wants to find out if he can make a career of it," said Charles Henry, the team's governor and the director of the hockey program.

"Last year he played 30 games and it wasn't enough for him to find out."

The Olympiques will start their season Friday without Rubin, who is at home in Montreal celebrating Rosh Hashanah.

He will miss two other games in September for Yom Kippur.

Rubin and the team consulted with his parents and rabbis to finally decide he could play during the Sabbath on Fridays and Saturdays. They reached the agreement on Monday.

Rubin has said he is uneasy with the attention surrounding his case and has declined interview requests.

Michael Rubin, the player's father, said the deal was an enormous concession for the family.

"It's not an entirely satisfactory arrangement," Rubin told Le Droit newspaper in Gatineau.

"I don't like the Sabbath compromise. But all of these negotiations showed me one thing: the Olympiques like my son as a hockey player. My son's teammates made me feel he is important to them and that makes me happy."

Benjamin Rubin, who plays in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, was traded from Quebec City to Gatineau this summer.

Gatineau residents stepped forward to house Rubin and meet his dietary requirements under the Jewish faith.

"Everyone wants to see him play," Henry said.

Rubin's dream of someday playing in the National Hockey League remains a long way off.

Henry describes Rubin as "not a bad, middle-of-the-road player" who works hard and has a reasonably fine hand with the puck.

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