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Saturday, 12 September 2020 17:43

The Origins of Dek Hockey Featured

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A big special thank you to Guy Morin for sharing his story and contributing to the development of the sport in Quebec!


Dek Hockey is a sport that had its beginnings in the United States, and more particularly in Leominster, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston.  The Mylec Company, a company that at that time sold equipment such as sticks and balls, received more and more phone calls during this period about where it was possible to practice Dek Hockey.  Following this enthusiasm, the company decided to invest in order to acquire a plastic playing surface and become the very first Dek Hockey center.  Founder of the Mylec company, Mr. Ray Leclerc who is the official designer of this sport so well known today.  Dek Hockey then became official in 1974.


Several US cities followed such as Pittsburgh, New York, Philadelphia and the state of Connecticut.  It was only in 1981 that the National Dek Hockey Association (NDA) was born.  The latter made it possible to make known the notoriety of this sport and to be able to standardize it and thus standardize it for all to see.


Mr. Guy Morin, an active hockey player as well as a cosum hockey player in the gymnasium, would become an important player in the Dek Hockey community at this time.  He allowed, among other things, to make things happen by bringing the concept of Dek Hockey to Quebec and by making known the sport in the province after several years of work and perseverance.


Following an advertisement about the Dek Hockey tournament in the state of Massachusetts in the sports magazine The Hockey News, a Canadian ice hockey magazine founded in 1947, Mr. Morin went directly to Leominster.  He had the opportunity to meet the owner of the Dek Hockey center, Mr. Chris Housser, in the spring of 1985, and at the same time he took advantage of it by visiting the premises.  After this meeting, Mr. Morin decided to create his own gymnasium league.  He absolutely wanted to open his league by respecting all the regulations of the sport while also taking into account the equipment allowing it to be played.  The goal is therefore to form teams, more precisely 4, so as to have the chance to participate in the very first Dek Hockey tournament in the Canadian city of Niagara Falls, Ontario and meeting between Mr Guy Morin and Mr Chris Housser in Leominster in 1985.


The following year, it was the province of Quebec's turn to host its very first 5-player vs. 5-player DekHockey game in June.  Indeed, the Incorporation of Dek Hockey Quebec Inc. carried out in May the importation of the first playing surface accompanied by a temporary band and the entire surface, which gave way to the match the following month.  The installation of the arena was the very first surface in 1986


Pictured: Tom Deery (Pittsburgh lineman), Guy Morin and Vincent Tremblay (ex Toronto Leafs goaltender)


In 1986, the players who played ball hockey, commonly known at the time, were mostly located in New Brunswick or in the west of the island of Montreal.  At that time, the key elements that set this sport apart from others and make it one of a kind were the surface as well as the equipment.  We can see that it was more precisely the dimensions of the playing surface as well as the sticks that were the 2 key elements of this sport in its early days.  These sticks were designed to give players greater control over the force of the throw and the trajectory of the ball, which weighs only one-third the usual weight of an ice hockey puck.  These sticks are also suitable for DekHockey surfaces constructed of polyethylene and each of the plastic paddles, made up of holes, allow air to pass through.


Mr. Morin presented a new formula for DekHockey players in 1989. This proposed a game schedule that would allow them to play half of their games in an arena (indoors) and the other half in the arena outside.  With almost unanimity, the players spoke and voted for the games to be played entirely outside.


The period between 1986 and 1991 was the one that will allow sport to be adapted to the realities of the province of Quebec.  It was at this time that, among other things, the translation of the rulebook, the translation of the Management Manual and other documents related to the good practice of the sport took place.


Patrick Roy, spokesperson for DekHockey from 1986 to 1994


 During this same period, creating and putting together all-inclusive “sets” for players was also a novelty for organizers in the DekHockey community.  Indeed, it was a challenge to include at the same time, the match schedules, referees and scorers, player registrations and statistics to be able to obtain a pro-rata of $ 8.00 per player /  per game at this time.


The next step in this whole process was Goalkeeper, a major step for the sport of DekHockey.  In fact, this would be able to validate whether the fact of standardizing each aspect of sport (such as playing surfaces, dimensions, refereeing, playing strategies, match schedules, management and  (marketing aspect too) was realistic or not at that time, in 1991. Once this was in place, we also had to ask ourselves whether the local demography of Quebec would be advantageous for exchanges.


The year 1993 was a turning point in the sport, as it was from then that Dek Hockey became a trademark in its own right.  The set of equipment used, the unique type of surface and the set of regulations attached to it are the 3 aspects that define this sport and this is what makes it so unique.  From that moment on, the popularity of the sport grew more and more and, by the same token, it was then marketed across the province.  In particular, many Quebec establishments, such as the Galeries de la Capitale in Quebec City, the Les 4 Glaces complex in Brossard, Place Bonaventure and the famous Olympic Stadium in Montreal have contributed to this expansion with the aim of developing this sport through the metropolis using an affiliate program.


Promotion of DekHockey at Galeries de la Capitale in Quebec City in 1994


Along this path, Guy Morin set out to find Quebec businesses that would like to partner with the concept of DekHockey.  The research was not easy knowing that at that time, the pool of players was not the highest in Quebec, and especially knowing that the manufacturers in the province did not want to take any risks with a novelty of the genre.  The goal was to bring the sport to Quebec to try to make it known locally and to prevent the monopoly in the United States from taking full place in North America.


Mr. Morin even thought of partnering with the Industrial Development Company (SDI).  This, directly in connection with the Government, would have been a good ally, because it would have made it possible to establish links between the local DekHockey and various potential companies to obtain help, with subsidies or to create partnerships.  Thus, Mr. Morin worked for many years with the SDI and a kiosk especially for DekHockey was installed at the Canadian sporting good association (CSGA) in Montreal and, more precisely, at Place Bonaventure.  The first goal was to be able to attract people to discover this brand new sport and popularize it in Quebec.


Other companies, such as D-Gel, IPL and Koho-Karhu (for DekHockey equipment) were also not interested in partnering with this concept at the time.  Yet they probably had no idea that a few years later the sport would take a whole new turn and gain tremendous popularity as a very interesting market.


In 1994, it was the setting up of matches 3 players against 3 players in the district of Charny, in the city of Lévis.  As a new sport in Quebec, the goal was above all to reach the smallest markets by creating a concept of the kind that is inspired by that which we already find in basketball, a sport that has already found its place in  the sports world.  Thus, this concept will be adopted more and more during the practice of DekHockey and the concept of 5 players against 5 players will be less and less popular.


Almost 7 years later, it was time to buy and build a center for DekHockey fans.  By the same token, it will 

become a benchmark establishment in this area for future promoters in the province.  Indeed, the Beauport center was a sports establishment with many potential sources of income that will allow it to be shared in the local market.


It is now thanks to all of these approaches that the sport of DekHockey is also developed and that it has the notoriety that we know to this day.

Read 2057 times Last modified on Saturday, 12 September 2020 18:02