Frozen Out?


There was mixed news for Benjamin Rubin, a Sabbath-observant hockey player in Canada’s top development league, at the end of his first season the other day.

In a post-season talk with owner-coach Patrick Roy of the Quebec Remparts in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Rubin, 18, heard that he is one of the team’s “most talented players.”

Roy also told Rubin, who scored only three goals this season while missing more than half of his team’s 70 games because of Shabbat and Jewish holidays, that he can play on one of the Remparts’ top offensive lines next season and can have more ice time — if he agrees to play in every game.

Rubin will play somewhere else in 2007-08.

“I knew it was going to come,” Rubin says. “I am still committed” to being shomer Shabbat. “I’m OK as long as I can go to another team.”

Friends of Rubin, who was raised in a Modern Orthodox family in Montreal and discovered his hockey skills as a child, are trying to line up another junior team that will accommodate his religious requirements while also preparing him for the National Hockey League. He won’t play, practice or travel on Friday night or Saturday.

“It’s a test not of Benjamin, but of hockey,” says his father Michael.

“It’s not hard to make the decision — I know what I have to do,” Rubin tells The Jewish Week in a telephone interview. The paper first chronicled his story in November 2006. Rubin is finishing his freshman year in college, is training for next season and is about to start a summer job at a Montreal auto dealership.

Some friends are encouraging him to stick to his religious convictions; others are pressuring him to put hockey first, he says. “It goes both ways.”

Rubin says his hockey skills improved during his limited playing time this season, and he is still focused on a career in the NHL.

“I still think it’s very possible,” he says. “Nothing’s impossible.”