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Where did My Money Go: The Financial Reality of Raising a Hockey Player in Canada

By Royal Bank of Canada

Published June 10, 2024 • 5 Min Read

In Canada, hockey isn’t just a sport – it’s a way of life. From backyard rinks to bustling arenas, the echoes of skates slicing through the ice are a familiar soundtrack across the country. But behind the roar of the crowd and the thrill of victory lies the considerable financial investment required to nurture a budding hockey talent.

For many Canadian families, the dream of seeing their child play in the NHL is both a source of pride and a significant financial commitment. From the earliest days of lacing up tiny skates to elite training camps, the costs often stretch family budgets to their limits. According to our research, parents invest $4,478 annually, totaling $53,735 by the time their child reaches 16 — a figure that underscores the financial dedication demanded by the sport.

Being Part of a Hockey Team

Most sports teams have to pay for ice time and liability insurance, which are included in the registration price. Parents may also have to pay for additional training sessions, which cost about $10 to $15 per session. On average, parents in our scenario paid $933 per year for registration. However, the fees you pay may vary depending on your location, the league, fundraisers, etc. Our prices come from the North Toronto (NTHL) and the Greater Toronto (GTHL) hockey leagues. We assumed the child played AA or AAA hockey. In the end, this expense adds up to $11,920 over 12 years of supporting their child’s dream.

Buying the Right Equipment

Outfitting a young hockey player with the necessary gear presents another financial challenge. Young children’s equipment can be resold later, as it wears very little. Older children’s equipment, on the other hand, quickly becomes worn and sweaty. For our calculations, we assumed parents bought brand-new equipment and kept it for two years in a row. Taxes apply on equipment, but since they vary by province, we used prices before tax.

We used Trio Hockey’s website to establish these prices. For young children, we simply picked the cheapest. For older children, we picked slightly more expensive equipment, and for teenagers hoping to make it into a professional league, we went with even more expensive gear.

Parents can expect to spend approximately $269 per year from ages 5 to 8, with costs surging to $1,357 for teenagers aspiring to compete at higher levels. Over 12 years, this investment in equipment averages to $9,190, or $766 per year.

Participating in Tournaments

Even when they are little, hockey players participate in a few tournaments every year. Usually, there is at least one local, one regional, and one provincial or national tournament. To estimate the costs related to tournaments, we assumed the local and regional tournaments did not require lodging.

The provincial tournament may require a hotel stay, and for this, we counted two nights, assuming they would participate in such tournaments for the 12 years they support their young hockey player. Transportation costs include 8.9 L/100 KM gas consumption for the parents’ car. The price of gas was 164.7 cents per liter at the time of our research.

In our scenario, parents had to drive to three tournaments making 114, 384, and 136 KM round trips, resulting in a gas bill of $92 per year. For hotel stays, we assumed our family from Toronto would spend two nights in Ottawa for $463.

Tournament fees also vary, as local tournaments and those for younger children are usually cheaper. We calculated $200 per tournament for all ages. The average cost of tournament fees for parents is therefore $600 per year. In total, they will pay $13,859, which includes transportation and hotel stays.

Perfecting the Player’s Skills

Additional investments are made in camps and private lessons to refine a player’s skills. Many young players attend these to improve their skating speed, power shooting, and readiness for the upcoming season. How much do these camps cost? They’re a hefty addition to the bill.

To calculate these costs, we made some assumptions: The player attends one camp per summer starting at 12 years old, plus 10 private lessons per year starting at the same age. We picked the Hockey Opportunity Camp, which costs $1,530 for the first week.

When we add private lessons to the mix, costs rise quickly. The child in our scenario takes lessons for $175 per hour. Including gas, parents will pay $10,216 for five years of camps and private lessons.

Despite the formidable financial hurdles that families face in nurturing a hockey player in Canada, the enduring passion for the sport remains undiminished. From coast to coast, the rinks are alive with the energy of young players chasing their dreams. As parents and guardians continue to make sacrifices to support their aspiring athletes, it becomes clear that the love for the game transcends monetary concerns. As the next generation of players takes to the ice, fueled by dreams of hoisting the Stanley Cup, one thing remains certain: hockey will always hold a cherished position as one of Canada’s favorite pastimes, a symbol of national pride, unity, and the enduring spirit of the Great White North.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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