Hockey Calgary adopting ban introduced at provincial level
Published Wednesday, May 8, 2013 8:08AM MDT
Last Updated Wednesday, May 8, 2013 6:36PM MDT
Hockey Calgary says they will be adopting the ban on body checking that was made earlier on Wednesday by Hockey Alberta, the provincial body in charge of minor hockey leagues.
Christina Rogers, communications manager with Hockey Calgary, says in a release that they are happy to work with Hockey Alberta.
"We are pleased with the decision Hockey Alberta made today as studies show children who body check at the Pee Wee level are three times more likely to suffer from a concussion or major injury. We want the game to be fun and children to be put in a safe environment where they can develop and focus on their skills."
The board of Hockey Calgary voted in favour of eliminating body checking at the Peewee level last year, but a vote on June 23, 2012, decided that the contact would remain in the game.
After that vote, members voted in favour of working with the provincial level on the issue.
“Hockey Calgary is proud to be a part of a provincial branch who knows the importance of improving child safety. We want the game of hockey to continue to grow and we believe by eliminating body checking at the Pee Wee level, the game will become more appealing to families,” said Rogers.
Hockey Alberta announced on Wednesday morning that it would be banning all body checking from the Peewee level starting the 2013-14 season.
Rob Virgil, the chair of the board, says that their primary concern is the safety of players.
“There is overwhelming evidence that body checking is the single most consistent risk factor for injuries and concussions in youth ice hockey.”
The decision means that all forms of body checking in hockey for 11 and 12-year-olds are disallowed.
There will be a penalty assessed for players who body check.
The rule is already in existence for players at the Atom level, so players moving into Peewee won't be seeing any change on the ice.
Coaches are still required to take part in the Checking Skills Program and encourage safe skills in a practice environment.
The board says they wanted to make the chance without delay based on the research they had compiled.
Experts in the field of concussions and sports medicine say that the organization should be commended for taking the step.
“Recent evidence suggests removing body checking at the Peewee level will reduce players' risk of concussions and injuries overall by more than three-fold," said Dr. Brian Benson, director of the Sport Concussion Clinic at the University of Calgary Sport Medicine Centre.
Rich Sutter, a former NHLer that played for many teams in his 13 season career, calls the move a 'big step backward.'
"I think it's a huge step backwards in what we're trying to accomplish within the minor hockey systems in Alberta and I don't know what it's going to be for our country. I just don't think it serves any good at all. I think it's a huge step back if that's the case."
Sutter is worried that instead of preventing injury, the ban on body checking will encourage more.
"It's going to create a whole lot of injury down the road at 15, 16, and 17. I think it's going to create a lot of bad habits. It's going to create a lot of things that are going to go on in the game that aren't happening in our game. Quite frankly, it's another rule in our game that doesn't need to be in the game."
Alberta will be the fourth Canadian province to adopt a ban on body checking.
It joins Quebec in their ban on checking at the Peewee level. That province introduces physical contact at Bantam levels.
The U.S. has had a simliar policy in effect since 2010/2011 season.
The Ontario Minor Hockey Association has taken body checking out of their House League and House League Select programs.
B.C. has banned body checking in various levels of its Recreation Leagues.