EDMONTON – Oilers President and COO Patrick LaForge as well as Senior Director of Player Development Rick Carriere are doing their part to strengthen hockey in Alberta by participating in the Alberta Hockey Summit in Banff later this month.
The Summit, slated for August 22-24 at Banff Centre, is intended to build a "Shared Vision for the Game in Alberta" and align the sport's key stakeholders around the common purpose of advancing hockey in communities across the province. LaForge, who will serve as a panelist, said the Summit will be pivotal towards the enhancement of the sport across Alberta, from the grassroots level to the NHL.
"It's a big deal," he said. "Hockey is really ingrained in our province. We're totally involved in hockey from top to bottom, so the development of the sport and what all the moms and dads think about hockey in this province is really important to us. We're going to be listening, asking questions and trying to gain an understanding of how the system works."
The three-day Summit is open to all invested hockey stakeholders across Alberta, including minor hockey executives and staff, university/college/school/academy staff and instructors, equipment organizations, political leaders, community influencers, coaches, players and parents. Essentially, anyone who is involved in hockey can register, attend, listen to the speakers and share their thoughts on the state of the sport.
"It's a real proactive move for Hockey Alberta and everyone over-seeing minor hockey in our province," said Carriere, who will also be part of the panel discussions. "The Summit will be hugely beneficial for player development at all levels … A very large age group is going to be affected by the information and progress that comes out of this weekend. There's always work to be done at all levels."
Joining LaForge and Carriere at the Summit will be some major players in the world of hockey. Hockey Hall of Fame goalie turned politician Ken Dryden is the opening keynote speaker, while Hockey Canada President and CEO Bob Nicholson will also be in attendance for the panel discussions. Several other hockey executives and high-level coaches are also slated to participate.
Currently, 10 players either on the Oilers active roster or in the development system are Alberta products. And even though the team is primarily involved at hockey's elite level, the organization plays a major role in grassroots development. The annual month-long Oilers Hockey School in St. Albert, the Ford Drills & Skills camp at Rexall Place and a valued partnership with KidSport are a few of the main community initiatives.
"We have a role to play," LaForge said. "We run camps and all kinds of hockey involvement programs. We're all partners here, all trying to listen and learn about the great sport. We need a set of priorities that comes from the grassroots up that we can work with to support a better game. We want to be part of implanting those priorities and bringing solutions to the game."
"Alberta is one of the most intense hockey markets in North America, producing a lot of players," he continued. "We want to continue to get the best athletes in Alberta participating in hockey and enjoying the game, whether it's for one year or 25 years."
For full Alberta Hockey Summit details, schedules and topics of discussion — as well as registration, transportation and accommodation information — visit www.hockeyalberta.ca/summit.