Lorne Korol is extremely busy this hockey season connecting with the Winnipeg Jets players and staff.
Korol is the Chaplain for the Winnipeg Jets, Manitoba Moose, and True North chapel.
"Even though I do everything virtually with the guys, it's very busy. In fact, it's been even busier this year because whenever you're in a situation where there's some sort of crisis, people are more in tune with their anxiety and fears. I've been having some really good dialogue with them," he says.
With the hockey season for 2020/2021 just beginning on January 13, Korol says that after the players find their rhythm, they'll set up a time for their first virtual chapel.
The protocols have all changed, which means that players are busier even though physically fewer people are around them.
"When they would finish practice before they would have a media scrum inside the dressing room or in the press area. Now of course they can't do that so following practice there is an opportunity for media to ask questions on zoom. It's a different format but it also takes a lot longer."
Once the men get used to the new protocols and schedule, a chapel date will be set for players who want to engage in that way.
"I've been talking to our chapel leader Mark Scheifele and we're looking forward to getting things kicked off in the next little while once they settle in in a bit."
Korol acts as a safe place for the players and in that role, gets to connect with the players on a deeper level.
"When you build those relationships you build trust and an opportunity for them to reach out. It's a little easier because I know them a lot better than even a year ago. I've had more responsive dialogue than I've ever had to start the season."
Over the past few months with the different levels of restrictions and lockdown, the mental space for many of the players and staff has been one of 'hurry-up-and-wait'. The hockey association has been keen to get going since the Stanley Cup playoffs ended in September of 2020.
"It's nice to see our organization pull together in a time like this," says Korol.
During the playoffs last year, NHL hockey players were confined to a 'bubble' keeping them either in a hotel or at the rink to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Now, the players have their spouses and kids in that bubble for the season ahead.
"They're very restricted and the NHL has strict protocols in place, but at least they get to see their families at home which is important to them."
Korol has shared a specific verse for the players as they start a new season, and that is Philippians 4:6-7, which says "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Faith plays an aspect for many professional hockey players.
"They've been leaning in like the rest of us. What you guys are doing at CHVN has been a source of comfort for people and I know we need that in these kinds of times. We're all just kind of leaning in," says Korol.
For people who want to pray for the staff and Jets players, Korol encourages them to pray that scripture over everyone in the organization.