As the parent of a five-year-old, my interest in minor hockey has grown exponentially the last few years. He’s a decent skater, but isn’t sure he wants to play. Despite that, you’re trying to learn everything you can. Toronto is a funny place for minor hockey. A friend of mine who used to coach always said governing the area “was like herding cats.” Normally a mild-mannered guy, he admitted to dressing three goalies one season, because it opened a loophole where he could dress fewer skaters. He had a loaded team and played those kids like crazy. “We won that year, too,” he said with a smile, as I rolled my eyes at the lunacy of it all. Right now, the Ontario Hockey Federation is fighting with one of the city’s fiefdoms — the North York Hockey League — over the decision to make cross-ice play mandatory in practices and games for five- and six-year-olds. The decision was announced by Hockey Canada last March. (We’ll get to that later.) It’s a great idea. Auston Matthews agrees, telling reporters last week, “That’s what I grew up playing on. It definitely helped me out with stickhandling in tight, making quicker plays, just trying to process the game a little faster….It’s a lot more fun than being a six-year-old hauling down 200-foot ice back and forth.” “Should have happened a long time ago,” Mike Babcock added. A chunk of their fan base disagrees, throwing up a litany of excuses rivaling a teenaged boy trying to avoid making his bed. They have complained about the cost of the barriers, the lack of space to store the barriers, that the new rules were not explained to parents in a timely fashion and/or that it wasn’t clear these would affect kids on select/elite teams.