A few nights ago the #Flames Young Stars played the Dino’s (University of Calgary Men’s) hockey team. As most expected they won the game, handily 5-1. Many will look at this game as a fluff game. Just another exhibition game to ready the young prospects for the real training camp.
And it was. After the game, Calgary pared down their camp roster by five, sending four players back to their amateur team and releasing another from his tryout.
But the sad reality is that the game was part of a disappearing tradition of pro teams playing amateur teams, mostly university squads. At one time, it was pretty common for the championship teams in the major sports would play individual teams or all-star teams from the amateur ranks.
Truthfully, they were often blow outs and more for publicity than actual competition for the pro teams. But for the amateurs, who got to play against the professionals, it must have been a terrific experience.
This wasn't a situation of playing against former professionals. These were games against the prior year’s World Series champions, the NFL champions, or NHL champions. These were dream games for players, most of whom had dreams of making the big leagues, but really never having a legitimate chance. I can only imagine the adrenalin that would run through these young players.
Today, too much money in the pro ranks make these games almost unheard of. The risk of potential injury and of course pro sports unions, make these contests prohibitive.
The NHL and Major League Baseball still add the odd pre-season game in, like the Young Stars game against the Dino’s. But, the days, of these great opportunities for amateur athletes is all but gone. Alas.