Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Hockey Alberta Takes Risky Step

Hockey Alberta, acting on a decision made by its Board of Directors, is eliminating body checking from the Peewee division beginning in the 2013-14 season.

“Our players’ safety is the foundation in making this decision,” said Hockey Alberta’s Chair of the Board, Rob Virgil. “There is overwhelming evidence that body checking is the single most consistent risk factor for injuries and concussions in youth ice hockey.”

In 2012, the Board of Directors established a Body Checking Review Committee and tasked them with reviewing relevant scientific research, member feedback from past AGMs and a recent survey and the positions of other Hockey Canada branches as they developed recommendations on options for body checking in Minor Hockey.

Over the course of the past year, the Committee debated and decided upon the following recommendations which were recently presented to and approved by the Board:

1. Create an overall Player Safety Strategy that includes a focus on the reduction of serious injuries in the game at all levels.

2. Continue to work within the guiding principles of the Long Term Player Development (LTPD) and allow these principles to frame the decision-making process around player development programs at all levels.

3. Remove body checking from all categories of the Peewee age group (11-12 years old).  

The Board of Directors felt strongly based on the research and information presented that the organization make this policy level change without delay.

“Hockey Alberta should be commended for taking a leadership role in creating a safer playing environment for our youth,” said Dr. Brian Benson, director of the Sport Concussion Clinic at the University of Calgary Sport Medicine Centre. “Recent evidence suggests removing body checking at the Peewee level will reduce players' risk of concussions and injuries overall by more than three-fold." 

Starting next season, the rules of play for the Atom age category will also apply to the Peewee age division.  There will be no body checking in all categories of Peewee hockey, and there will be a penalty assessed for players who body check. Coaches will still be required to take the Checking Skills Program in Peewee and encouraged to teach safe checking skills in a practice environment.


Anonymous said...

To quote Mike Milbury, "the wussification" of the game continues.

75flyersbestteamever said...

How is checking handled in other countries?
Taking checking out of the game--weren't the Oilers already doing this??? hey yo!!!

Anonymous said...

How about getting coaches to teach kids how to hit properly?

Anonymous said...

It's not wussification it is a misguided attempt that completely misses the point in terms of how to protect players. Body Contact is a skill like shooting, skating, passing, and then moving on to team tactics. The lack of practice time also combined with coaching having been brutal for years at the grassroots level kids move up to Pee Wee and are completely not prepared.

Factor in the fact parents take no responsibility for preparing their kids it gets even worse. There are many body contact camps out there kids can take to improve their skill in this area, yet parents will not shell out the money to prepare the kids. The same applies for not taking power skating, or other specific skill camps. The result is you have Hockey Players with out the required skillset to move forward. Rather than realize the kids are not suited to play hockey once they get to the Pee Wee stage and pull them out, the sense of entitlement kicks in and they change the entire context of the game to suit the lack of development making it even worse.

If Alberta has done this you can best believe SHA and Hockey Regina are not far behind.

Shame on all of them.

Y'er Welcome

Anonymous said...

How are kids going to perform when they get to bantam after being unable to hit in pee-wee. If you are going to start somewhere, start in atom. This is a terrible decision!

Anonymous said...

Coaches need to start teaching kids how to body-check in atom so that they are doing it right in pee-wee. I hope Hockey Canada doesn't look at this and make it mandatory across Canada. This decision needs to be re-thinked!


Anonymous said...


Here is a theory and you tell me if I'm on track. Who says kids have to play hockey past Atom? Let's look at the game of Baseball. If a kid starts out with the intention of wanting to play the game, but for whatever reason can't seem to grasp a key skill of hitting, and never gets a base hit, then to what good purpose does it serve keeping them in the game? Wouldn't natural selection weed them out?

The same goes with this hitting. I'm not of the opinion it has to be in Atom. I believe that is a time they should be developing skating, skating, more skating and also their shooting/passing skills. When the confidence comes from being on their skates, and able to uses edges then you can add the element of getting physically moved off the puck. The key word is what is "hitting" per se. We are not talking about running people through the boards, but separating the player from the puck physically. Nobody did this better than Nick Lidstrom, and he will never show up on a hockey's hardest hitters segment.

My point is that if you can't grasp a key skill in order to be successful, then there are other sports to go and play. I also want to take back the comment of how bad grassroots coaching is. At the younger ages more or less it is like herding cats. Those guys don't get a lot of practice time, and the time they do get it's usually spent trying to get them to play as just the semblance of a team.

I honestly think it's at the point where the onus is on the parents. You know the skill is needed so make arrangements to have them get the appropriate skill. If they can't grasp it or don't want to grasp it then let them play a different game.

I'll also conclude I believe this concussion debate is pure bullshit. The NHL guys are 200 lbs on average and skate 35 miles an hour. Little guys bumping into each other isn't a wholesale problem. Learn to give and take a hit, and they will be fine.


Anonymous said...

Obama, don't you have a job?

truenorthern said...

Why do kids need to hit at all? Adult rec hockey is no hit because they don't want to get hurt?