NHL rule change puts baby in stands… without a ticket


William Anderson has scored his first goal in the National Hockey League — and he’s not even walking yet.

William, who is six months old, will be allowed to sit on his mother’s or father’s lap at Sunday afternoon’s outdoor Heritage Classic hockey game between the Jets and the Edmonton Oilers at Investors Group Field.

“I’m very pleased that they changed it and gratified they did it,” mom Shalyn Meady said Tuesday.

“If we hadn’t heard anything by (Tuesday) we would have sold or donated our tickets so this is great — we will be going to the games.”

The NHL unexpectedly issued a statement Tuesday that said effective this Sunday, the league will follow the lead of the Winnipeg Jets and allow children under the age of two to enter Investors Group Field without a ticket, but they must sit on the lap of an adult. Older children require their own — paid — seat.

The issue came up last month when Meady and Clifford Anderson said they had already spent $800 on two seats and didn’t believe they should have to spend another $400 for a third seat their child couldn’t use because he’s not yet able to sit up by himself.

The Jets allow children under two years old into games without a ticket to sit on adult laps. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers extend the courtesy to people with children up to three years of age. The Heritage Classic, however, is run by the NHL — not the Jets — and had a different set of rules.

Yvonne Peters, chairwoman of the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, said in a statement they’re pleased the matter came to “a speedy resolution.

“The NHL policy change reveals how the Manitoba Human Rights Commission can move on a concern before a more complicated human rights complaint is officially filed,” Peters said.

“In this case, the commission used a process referred to as pre-complaint mediation. This is an efficient way of getting two parties, who are agreeable to settling a concern, to come to a fast and fair agreement.

“The NHL has shown its willingness to review and change its policy, which is more in line with the Winnipeg Jets’ existing policy. The commission congratulates the parties involved.”

The NHL statement initially noted the policy change takes effect Sunday afternoon for the regular-season game, with no mention of a change in admission rules for Saturday afternoon’s alumni game at the stadium featuring members of previous Jets and Oilers squads, including Dale Hawerchuk and Wayne Gretzky.

In a later clarification, the NHL said the policy will take effect for Saturday’s alumni game.

The NHL said anybody who has already purchased a ticket for a child under two can get a refund the day of the game at the main box office before the puck is dropped.

The revised NHL policy on babies will also apply for other special-event games, including the all-star game, NHL Stadium Series and future NHL Heritage Classics, but the NHL will follow the ticket rules of the local team.

That means if the Heritage Classic is hosted by a team that has different rules for babies, the NHL will follow the policy of the local team.

Meady said that’s OK because every NHL team allows babies in for free, and some teams allow children under the age of four to go.

“We took William to a local hockey game the other night, and he enjoyed it,” she said.

“He won’t remember these games, but we’ll take pictures, and he’ll always be able to say he saw Gretzky play. It will be pretty special.”


Read more by Kevin Rollason.