IS THERE A PLACE FOR BODY
IN MINOR HOCKEY?
This is a special feature on After The
Whistle that addresses a very real concern among coaches and parents of
minor hockey children. We would like your comments on this issue. To see
what others have said about this article,
An investigation by CBC News has brought an age-old issue
to the forefront of minor hockey circles. At the center of the controversy
is the decision by the Canadian Hockey Association to allow nine-year-olds
to body check at the atom level.
For as long as we can remember, researchers have conducted study after
study which showed that injuries increased dramatically when children were
allowed to body-check before they reached the age of 12.
Apparently, a study commissioned out of Lakehead University in Thunder
Bay showed that there was no significant difference in the rate of
injuries between a group of children who were allowed to body check and
those who were not.
The CBC News show, Disclosure, however, found that there was a serious
error in the study's calculations and in fact the injury rate was more
than three times higher in the group that was allowed to hit.
The results should come as no surprise to hockey parents who have to
watch their children turn into "mean, lean, checking machines"
as they move into atom and beyond.
DO WE EVEN NEED BODY-CHECKING IN MINOR HOCKEY?
The issue now is whether body checking even has a place in minor
For example, if all of the studies show that body checking should not
be allowed before a child reaches the age of 12, why is it even allowed at
the peewee level? Why don't we wait another year or two and introduce it
at the Major Bantam or Minor Midget level?
Hockey purists will insist that if you teach children to hit and take
hits at a younger age, they will avoid injuries as they get older. That
line of thinking simply doesn't hold water any more.
Jordin Tootoo became famous as one of the toughest players in the World
Juniors and he didn't begin playing organized hockey until he was around
14 years old. Now, at the age of 20, even though he is not a large man by
any standards, he is one of the hardest body checkers on the ice. He
didn't suffer from a lack of instruction at a younger age.
THE BODY IS BEING USED AS A WEAPON
What is becoming more and more evident each year is that as equipment
gets better and stronger, the body has become as much a "weapon"
in hockey as the stick. And coaches who want to "win" will use
whatever weapon they have in their arsenal.
When the game of hockey was invented, it was a game of skill.
"Body contact" happens naturally when you have ten people
skating around on a confined ice surface. Some of the hardest contact
occurs at the novice and atom levels as children accidentally run into
each other. These are not penalties, but merely the result of players
being on a collision course.
"Body checking" evolved as a way of taking a person out of
the play so that he couldn't get a chance to score. Body checking thus
became a skill, as important in many ways as stick-handling and shooting.
Today, "body checking" has become a focal point of the game,
not merely intended to take a player off the puck, or to prevent a scoring
chance, but as an intimidation tactic and a way to create enough pain so
that opponents will think more about protecting themselves from being hit
than in trying to score. Players are told that their main role on the team
is to hit other players so that their line-mates can score the goals.
There are some players who never touch the puck, but they are praised for
the number of solid body checks they hand out.
Children who fall in love with the sport at an early age playing ball
hockey with their friends and novice level hockey on the ice, soon learn
to hate the game or to hate their opponents. Just look into the eyes of a
bantam or midget level player when he has a chance to hand out a body
check. This is not the look of a person who is having fun, but rather the
look of a person who has been told that it is legal to inflict pain and
assault another individual in the name of hockey. Never mind the puck -
take out the player.
The pre-game talk by many coaches consists of raising the level of
hatred among players prior to stepping on to the ice. Cries of "Let's
hit them hard and often at the beginning of the game to show them who's
boss."; "Show they how tough we are."; "Make they feel
pain." "Let's get those guys." are all intended to raise
the emotional level of players so that they will do their best - however,
it also leads to many problems on the ice.
Hockey as become a sport where mediocre players and teams can excel.
You don't need to have skill to be a good player today. All you have to do
is be rough and be able to take and give out the physical punishment. The
cheers for a crushing body check are just as loud as for a goal in hockey
today. And for a player who is looking for approval, it is easier to hit a
player than it is to score a goal.
BACK TO BASICS
The sooner we eliminate body checking from all play below the Midget
Level, the sooner we will see an improvement in the game of hockey. There
is no other way to go. If we continue to allow players to receive their
satisfaction from "hitting", they will never learn to develop
the true skills of the game. And if you take away the "body checking
weapon" from coaches, they will actually have to spend more time on
developing "goal-scoring" and "puck handling"
If the children want to continue playing beyond Bantam, or if they want
to go on and try to move on to a higher professional level, then they will
be good enough to learn how to hit and be hit when they reach the midget
level. Just look at Jordin Tootoo. In the meantime, the players and the
parents will have to focus on what the game of hockey is all about - puck
handling, passing and scoring - it's what made this game so popular all
around the world.
To find out more about the CBC News Disclosure, go
After The Whistle would like to hear your
comments on this issue. CONTACT
IS THERE A PLACE FOR BODY
IN MINOR HOCKEY?
COMMENTS FROM OUR READERS
We thank all of the following readers who have taken the
time to send in their comments. Please be advised that the comments are
shown in reverse order from when they were received. For example, the
comment which has been received most recently is the first one you will read. The
last comment in the list is the first comment that was received.
Recently the National [CBC] broadcast
a news item on bodychecking in ice-hockey. It mentioned an article
recently published in a medical journal. I would like to pass on the
following observations , strictly as a former minor/amateur hockey
1)The concept of "checking" can
often be ambigious. It may mean poke-checking, "shadowing" the
opposing player, full body-checking or a "hit". With respect
to injuries the body-checking and the [big league] hits cause the most
damage to the mucular-skeletal system [no surprise], however it is
generally considered that poke-checking and "shadowing" in
recreational and other "non-contact" leagues often lead to
more "stick" injuries especially to the upper body area [i.e.
lecerations, eye injuries etc.]. Whether or not this is statistically
accurate, I cannot say.
2) Often the game strategy of body-checking
is overlooked. The purpose of the the check is to:
a) separate the player from the puck
b) physically exhaust the opponent- i.e. force the player to come
to a complete stop and idealy fall to the ice. The "checked"
player should have to pick himself up off the ice an start
[accelerating] skating from a complete stop.
c) deter the opposing players from chasing the puck and
distracting them when in possession of the puck. Players that are
reluctant to take possession of the puck for fear of being checked are
considered "puck shy".
d) [mostly major leagues] intimidate one or more of the key
players by inflicting as much [legal] impact when he is in possession of
the puck and/or a retaliation for intimitation from the other team.
Ultimately this leads to a "fight" of sorts. This may please
some fans but also removes the most aggressive players from the game.
I realize that the medical journal
has approached the problem from a child-injury point of view as opposed
to a competative sport perspective. And so it should be a parental
decision whether a child plays ice hockey and what role that child
wishes to play in the game. However for [mostly] boys who play this game
in their youth it provides tremendous physical and mental training in an
environment that can often be a great deal of fun. Proper equipment,
training, coaching and refereeing should minimize most injuries. It
would do this great game a great injustice, however to remove or limit
one of the most strategic elements of the sport.
A classic example of strategic checking was
in the 1970's NHL. Montreal was in a playoff series with Chicago. The
Newest scoring star for Montreal was Guy Lafleur. The Home Town crowd
expected him to be assigned a scoring role and be "fed" the
puck as often as his linemates could. Instead he was assigned to
shadow the great Bobby Hull. Hull was much older, stronger and more
experienced than Lafleur but Lafleur had the speed and agility that
could keep the powerful left winger from breaking free of his other
checkers and inflicting his powerful slapshot on the Montreal goalie.
Lafleur virtually shut Hull and the Blackhawks down. To add insult to
injury, as it were, when the Chicago forwards, including Hull, managed
to rarely escape the Montreal checking they had to face a red hot Ken
Dryden ! I don't remember who won the Stanley Cup that year but it
wasn't Chicago !
I hope I have the right spot to add my little bit on the
subject of body
contact / checking. There is a lot of good points brought up on both, for
and against the contact in minor hockey. One thing that I think people are
missing and needs to be taken in consideration is the caliber or level at
which you child is playing.
I've been involved with minor hockey as a coach for 17 plus years in a B
house league Association. This is the caliber or level of hockey dictated
the size of our community or # of kids.
In 17 years of house league hockey, HERE, in my community, I have yet seen
anyone, strictly playing house league hockey, make it to the NHL. No one
have been drafted, no one has been looked at as a hopeful and no one has
signed up to a pro team in Europe. Sure there have been kids that made it
to a much higher level aa, aaa, semi-pro but had to leave the Association
Minor hockey has been preaching for as long as I can remember, hockey for
fun and priority set on fun. Now someone explain that one to me. How can a
child enjoy the game or learn the skills if all he can do is get rid of
puck as soon as it touches his stick or be terrified of jumping on the ice
in fear of meeting Big Bad John in the corner.
I tell you that contact hockey at this level, cripples the child's ability
to learn and enjoy the game. For example, last year I had a 238 lb
defenseman the heaviest player on the team and my lightest at 85 lb ( when
wet ). Even though the skill level of that 85 lb player was much superior
the 238 lb, he was quite happy to be on the same team. He got hit hard a
time early in the season, by other big players, suffered 1 concussion and
his game dropped drastically. He was scared and nothing I could say or
could bring it back. This child as decided to call it quits AND WILL NOT
BACK THIS YEAR and who knows probably never to organize hockey.
So basically where is you son playing, what skill or level and what is the
most likely result is your child's hockey career should be looked at. Play
for fun or play to get paid.
Keep the contact in the higher levels and take it away in the recreational
leagues. Why even take the chance of a fatal or life crippling injury, for
what, to be Big Bad John, something to be proud of I guess for some
I wish to state that i am opposed to checking in all levels of hockey, I
have had two boys who played right up to the midget aaa, Most hockey
players after hockey is finished live with many problems bad back, bad
legs, aches and pains from old wounds like the broken wrist that now as
one of my son says aches off and on when he was slammed into the boards
in a play off game. Atom is so young their bodies are growing so fast
they do not need that extra push and shove to learn the game.
The other son is one though that is the statistic that we all fear. The
broken neck, or what we say the spinal cord injury. This is the
statistic that is often said would not happen to them. He lives with
constant pain, went from a 180lb young man playing defense to wasting
away to barely 120lb man in the spinal cord unit at Vancouver general
Although since his injury, many things have been implemented to help
solve this problem this problem still exist.
There was no whistle blown, checked viciously from behind, Scraped off
the ice so the game could continue, he fought hard to live.. Insurance
has been the main thing cover ups from caha, bcha, and caha are what to
expect. Investigation, still waiting. Insurance is a main problem with
spinal cord injury when you have exhausted the mutual aid fund. Then
comes the rehab. Years of rehabilitation, and also acceptance from your
And like us having to not say anything for years afraid to talk, well we
are now entering our 10th year since this tragedy, and back into court..
again for the third time. Agonizing pain when asked for the 5oth time
about how is body function on a daily bases. Having to go to up against
the caha and bcha, representatives, who in the first place hid behind
I guess i just want to let the coaches and young players out there know
that hitting or checking from behind is not worth it, You see, if you
read the insurance policy, there is little there. And what is there by
the time you have to get a lawyer involved their is not much left
If hockey Canada what to put checking into atom then let them come clean
about really what happens to the young man who do suffer severe
injuries. Or increase the insurance policy. Remember what we have
learned if you move your little finger and toe, there is no insurance to
speak of. Although as they say he is incomplete, he does not meet the
standard qualification of the either para, hemo, or quad, but is paralyzed
throughout his body,
Hockey Canada does not want to give the answers to the questions regarding
how many young man or women are seriously hurt across Canada, that would
hurt them seriously.
Anyways i hope that speaking out now, perhaps things will change, Hockey
Canada, must change, and recognize those players who really have been
team players throughout, it is Hockey Canada that really has not and
will not step up and fight for those that have been seriously injured. I
hope that the fight to stop body checking in the game will stop,,
remember they play for fun and not money. MOST players who finish
playing hockey never take up the game after so who cares if they body
check...And most players never make the NHL either. We to this
day wait, to hear from Hockey Canada, on a personal basis, or even BCHA
who was suppose to do the investigation but keep it to themselves i for
one am still waiting, they wanted to make sure that they did the investigation
so that nothing would come out and they succeeded indeed. Thank-you and
hope that maybe this message will get to the people about how important
it is that we have no body checking at all, in the game. Remember they
are the governing body and they also hold the key to as how much your
son or daughter injury might be helped in the rehabilitation after such
Finally someone who understands the minor hockey game.I get so sick and
tired of the turning on the TV and seeing various comments from ex
NHL'ers on this issue.Don Cherry another.Many coaches in minor hockey
too.If they would only take the time to open the CHA Coaches manual and
understand the idea of body contact that progresses to body checking.The
game is minor hockey,not mini NHL. Too bad you couldn't have 7 minutes
between periods on Sat nights to spread the reality of this issue.
I have also been a hockey coach, parent and administrator
for 12 years plus , and find it ridiculous to allow the IMPLEMENTATION of
body checking before bantam. Coaches can INTRODUCE body checking at any
stage in their skills and practice sessions, and can allow body contact
(angling, same direction contact etc), but the child's body cannot
withstand body checking without risking serious injury. Just today a study
the University of Pittsburgh found that childhood concussions are more
severe and take longer to recover then adolescents. This is my area of
major concern, concussions which can occur from direct contact or from the
whiplash effect which can cause brain damage. A child's head is fully
grown at the age of 6 or 7. This is sitting on a body about a third of the
size of an adult. Do the physics of whiplash and get back to me.
There are no studies that prove
any reduction in injury with early checking. None. Every medical position
paper rejects it. I don't even know why it is debated?
Can you imagine being a 9 year
old and your first concern when on the ice is who is going to pop you. And
that is what will happen. Are we going to have LEVEL 5 refs controlling
atom hockey now? Not likely. A fan from Antigonish
In regards to the study and calculations which led to the
allowing of body contact into the lower levels ,ie Atom, why has it that
the ruling of no contact at this level not been reintroduced?
I am a parent of a minor bantam AA player and feel that contact introduced
at the peewee level was a major adjustment to my sons entire
game at which time his love for the actual game was slightly hampered
with resentment towards the opposing players/teams who are just there to
hit and r hurt ather than play the puck or the game.
Another point is players who have all the neccessary stick,scoring and
skating ability to play at the higher levels are being bumped for those
who may have less talent because of thier larger size and aggression.
In my opinion at my sons age of 13, body contact during a game is kept in
perspective for the most part because of the maturity level, but at the
tender ,maturing and developing years of 8-11 yrs contact should not be
Our children spend 8 hrs at school where evidence of violence is on the
rise ,The education system is desperatly working to teach children
/parents the zero tolerance rule in the schools then after
school 4-6 nights a week we take our kids to hockey where they are taught
to use thier bodies as a means to get what they want...the puck.
My son was benched recently for three consecutive shifts during a game
because in the coaches opinion he wasn't hitting hard enough! He stands
5ft8inches and wieghs 135pds and hits plenty hard enough to come out of
the corner with the puck every time.
How do the Euros do it? They seem to have a great system
that turns out very skilled players....when do they start body checking in
their respective countries? I think that we could learn a lot fro what
they are doing - get our heads out of the sand! Sincerely, Alex Stieda
Hockey is a great Canadian past time and we need to improve our systems
or we will fall behind. In our schools today all the children
have to sign a zero
tolerance agreement and so should it be in hockey.
Body checking if needed should only be in rep level Hockey. House league
for recreation and fun for all children. Not to break bones or get the
mine set that
alot of rep players have. It should be just clean fun.
In rep we should have players that are going to start checking read up
them to types of hitting and what is dangerous and test them on it.
I also feel in hockey, body checking
should be broken down to types of checking. Having all types of
body checking introduced in one season opens up room for injury and
Up to Bantam level they should be taught how to follow beside the player
take them of the puck. This can be a great skill builder. Teaching
to have speed if you want the puck, not to be scared and the skill to
push the player off the puck. This also prepares them for full
body contact as they move on. Also all defense should be able to
stop players that are coming straight at them in the defensive zone by
placing there body directly in front and taking them
off the puck with their bodies. ( not elbowing or sticking their
foot out to trip). This
also prepares them for body contact and teaches them to be good
Bantam level down, there is various sizes of children playing, you may
a player that is 5ft 8inches and another play that is 4ft 9inches with a
large difference in weight and if there is full body contact you are
looking at great room for severe injures. Children at this age are
growing and they do not need impairment to growth with fractures and
Body checking such as lining them up on the boards or at blue with the
intention of taking a player full out should not be allowed at this age.
If Triple A league feels they need full body contact at a Bantam level,
that would probably be okay.
Midget level and up implement full body checking at this age. Most of
the children have leveled off and are finished most of the growing.
There should be more thought on how body checking is introduced to
There has been to many times I have seen children go out to hurt players
rather than play. Or when they are losing go out for revenge at
the end of a game.
We need to teach them better and have a guide line to go by and we will
better players that move on. Always having the big guys we leave
behind. We need players small or big to have skills first and
then bring in body checking in stages.
If we can improve the way checking is introduce and at what ages the
type of body checking is allowed. We will have better players for the
future. But at the
rate Canadian Minor Hockey is going we will have no skilled players
just big goon's. Peter Martiradonna - A Concerned Parent
I think body checking should be eliminated in minor hockey,
to a point. Don't get me wrong, I think that body checking should be part of this
game, but it should be introduced at a graduated level. Also, to me, the
skill development of this game is what should be taught and developed first.
What I also will say is that body checking should first be taught in a
controlled environment, like practices, then incorporated into the games. For
example, why not use the Minor/Major Peewee levels to teach kids how to give and
take a check, but not allow them to use it during games. Then, after a
full 2 levels of hockey have been used to teach body checking, then introduce it
in the games at the Minor Bantam level. To go even further, once a
player reaches Minor Bantam, why not only allow it at the elite levels of hockey,
say AAA? Maybe even AA and up? If kids are destined to have
some type of future playing this game (the levels of Junior, semi-pro and pro), then
they will probably have to go through some elite level in minor hockey, say
AAA. Look at Jordin Tootoo on the Canadian Junior team, he started late (age 14
I think), and he seems to do fine in the body checking department.
This may sound totally ridiculous to everyone, but could work if done properly.
Ralph La Monaca
Coach, Vaughan Rangers Minor Peewee Select
Body checking should be allowed for 9 year olds. It is a
skill that needs to be taught properly at a young age and developed accordingly as they grow
older. We have the necessary rules in place to remove the guilty players
when the infraction happens. What should be debated further is the severity /
removal of the guilty player based on the degree and intent of violence. Let's teach and make the players 100 % accountable for their
Ensure the CHA rules make it a significant deterrent ( for 2nd time repeat
offenders ) and that the officials have no choice but to call what they see and
teach our officials our standard of excellence. It may be even worth debating
and exploring of connecting the coach and player to suspensions. This idea
could be applied in other areas as well. (i.e Check from behind, fighting etc.)
That would get everybody's 100 % immediate attention.
ODHA Jr Official & ODMHA Cumberland Coach
I am a coach and trainer of a Pee Wee
House League team and an old, slow recreational hockey player.
This is the first year of body checking with
our kids and what I have noticed is:
* more penalties compared to last year
* more game injuries
* skilled players being "targeted" by less skilled players
* concerns for safety expressed by parents
* concerns for safety ("fear") expressed by players
* indications from some players that they may not continue with minor
hockey after this year
* indications from players that "it was more fun" last year
The hockey "career path" of a
typical house league minor hockey player is to start in tykes when they
are 6 or 7, play non body checking until age 11, body checking until 16
or 17 then play non contact recreational hockey for the rest of their
life. Does it make sense to have body checking for most minor hockey
players given they only body check for 6 - 8 year ? Some say it's part
of the game. Maybe, if the "game" is the NHL, but for the
99.9% of players who end up playing non contact recreational hockey
after their minor hockey is over, it is not part of the game. It is only
part of the minor hockey game because we adults say it is. The question
I always like to ask is how many kids quit hockey because of body
checking versus the number who would quit if body checking were not
allowed, particularly at the house league level? I suspect the former
far exceeds the latter and that is a shame. Hockey is a great game - the
best. It is a game you can play and enjoy for most of your life. Let's
keep it fun for the kids who are there to learn, have fun, get exercise
and meet new friends. Body checking can always be taught to the elite
player. Let's keep the kids active and involved and let them develop
their own love of the game without the fear and intimidation that too
often pervades our sport.
Mike, London, Ontario
When I played Hockey (a long time ago) contact was a part of the game
with no age restrictions. The problem today is that we don't allow
contact until age 12. I feel there would be less contact if contact was
allowed at the earlier stages of Minor Hockey. Today the players
aggressively look forward to the day when they reach the level to HIT!!!
Taking the contact out of Hockey would be a huge mistake - where will it
end?? Let's take the "Tackle" out of FootBall, remove the
physical content out of Rugby and Lacrosse. This would be pretty boring
to play and watch for that matter. It's all part of the game, if you
can't handle it --play Soccer!
I've coached for 10 years at the Novice and Atom age
levels, all House League, levels A through C. Currently, I coach an Atom C
house team. I have a number of players who
have never skated before, let alone played hockey. On the flip side,
I've got some kids who are on the cusp of being B level players. Plus, in
our division, there are a number of teams that are extremely strong, with
every player capable of playing in B or A hockey in our township. If
these teams were permitted to use body contact, I am 100% certain that I
would have seen at least one serious injury thus far this season.
When you get a single one-hour practice a week, there is not enough time
to teach body contact, especially to kids who need to work on skating, and
stopping, and stick handling and passing. These are the true
elements of the game, not body contact. The fact of the matter is,
the game is still hockey without body contact. The women's gold
medal game at the 2002 Olympics is a perfect example of that. There was no
legal body contact
in that game, and it was as exciting as any other game I've seen.
There has always been, and will always be contact in the Rep/Select
and so it should be. These are the kids and parents who are willing
to pay big bucks to play the game, and are at a skill level where the
intricacies of the game are important. But House League hockey is
supposed to be about fun. It's supposed to be about getting kids
together and giving them something to do, working as a team, learning how
to win and
lose with grace. I think that as soon as you introduced body contact
to House League hockey, enrollment would drop drastically, especially
among kids who have never played before, because they would too afraid of
getting their clocks cleaned. And if it truly is Canada's sport,
don't we want kids playing it?
Jeff Dunlop - Coach Cumberland Atom C House League
You take body checking out of hockey and
it's like taking tackling out of football. Young children
fall during games or bump into each other and seem to survive making it
to Bantam or the Midget level. A good body check is an art.
It's almost impossible to find a defensive defenseman nowadays.
Any coach will tell you 1 on 1 to take the body. It's a great part
of our game. Keep it in. Starting at the pee wee level
would be fine.
Yours sincerely, An Old School Defenceman
Body checking should be introduced no later than
"Novice"- At the very young ages ,I believe their would be less desire to body check for the wrong
reasons, size would not be as much as a factor, players would have a
longer period to adjust and learn how to body check. Body checking is a integral
part of the game and should remain so. Introducing it half way through
minor hockey is wrong! Teach it along with all the other hockey skills at the
beginning stages - it will result in more fun, less injuries, more skilled
Ken Renaud - VP Leduc Minor hockey Assoc.
In your article about body checking I disagree with what you are
stating. A clean body check has never hurt anyone. Being in the wrong
place and not knowing how to take the hit is what results in injuries. When
a player tries to brace themselves for the hit by placing their
arms out against the boards results in injury. By players not knowing
the danger zone off the boards or slowing down to take the hit will
result in injury.
I have been coaching hockey now for over 30 years and have only seen the
injuries resulting because of body checking being taken out of the game
in pee wee and below. Kids being injured then have never been taught
where to be on the ice or how to take the hit. I have seen more injuries
resulting from high sticks and stick work which is totally ignored by
the referees now that kids are wearing face masks and neck guards. The
rule used to be any thing above the waist was a high stick and was
called because no one wore helmets ,face masks or neck protectors so the
rule was called.
Body checking cleanly and properly and learning how to take the hit
where to be on the ice will not result in injury but a stick blade in
the throat or a stick across the neck will result in injury.
Edd Patenaude-- Edmonton, Ab.
My name is Ian Haynes. I have been involved with hockey
since 1994; am an Intermediate Level Coach; a Level 2R Referee and the
Director of Referees for the Windsor Minor Hockey Association in Windsor,
Ontario, Canada. My opinion about checking in Minor Hockey is
divided but relevant.
My wife is all-but-thesis for a MS from
the University of California at Davis in Childhood Development. I
use her as a resource regularly because she understands the workings of
the young minds I am attempting to communicate with. When drills or
concepts are difficult or impossible to get the young players to
understand, I'll ask her how to break things down into smaller, more
We have had the checking discussion on more than
one occasion. The young mind, under say, 16 years of age, has a
tough time separating out the parts of the message being presented.
The negative portion of ANY message will tend to be the part that they
remember and react to. It does not matter how many times that they
are told that the checking and the contact are part of the game. It
will be read and reacted to as a personal attack by most of the players,
most of the time. Hence the profusion of retaliatory penalties that
appear coincidentally with the introduction of checking.
It is my opinion that the full contact nature of
the game should be taught at an early age but not introduced as a part of
the regular game-play until Midget Minor or Bantam Major. Thusly,
the skill set is developed during the practice times and when it becomes
part of the actual game, their minds can accept that it's just part of the
game without going through all the macho crap we now are dealing with.
Regards, Ian D. Haynes
To all hockey people:
The topic of body contact, to no body contact, has been a hot
topic for many of years. This topic will continue to be hot for
a many more of years. Which side to take is always a difficult
choice. Yes, the important skills for children learning the game,
are skating, passing, stick and oh yes more skating, so why have body
The reason why we should have body checking is that it has been a part
of the game since the game began, and the problem of the checking is not
the contact, but how it is taught and presented as a tool. There is
a lack of respect for the fellow player, that used to be there, when there
were no face masks and the equipment wasn't a hard plastic suit of armour,
(Don Cherry and Ron MacLean can attest to that) giving
the players a feeling of invincibility.
Have you ever taken the time and watch people from all ages learning
how to play contact hockey for the first time? Try playing men's non
contact hockey with people who have never played with contact. People
skating with their heads down and out of control, not knowing
the damage that two moving bodies on skates can do.
I coach Pee Wee A, which for our area is the first year that the kids
are allowed to hit. It is very interesting watching these kids
trying to hit and being hit for the first time. Many kids for
the first time think it is all about two freight trains trying to blow the
other off the tracks! Others when they hit lunge or try or get
the hands up. When being hit some stop skating curl up etc..
But the worse is the three feet area from the boards! Some kids just
don't know when not to hit a person who's back is turned, and on the flip
side some kids are being afraid turn there back (a natural instinct) and
we all know what happens then.
So how can I say hitting should be there at a younger age, because I
know for a fact that an out of control body weighing 60 to 70 pounds can
not do as much damage as a 175 pound body. Yes any body any size can
do damage, but not as much. We must, as teachers of the game,
express that body contact is just about that, contact with the body to
alter some ones path or gain a position on the ice. Not about
blowing someone out of their skates. We must also teach
the respect of your fellow player when there is body contact involved.
I as a coach have sent players to the locker room for non-legal checks,
even if the ref has only given them two minutes.
Like any tool we must as teachers, teach the kids how to use it.
The sooner the better!
Brian Gray, Pee Wee A Coach
As a parent of two hockey playing boys, both still playing
in their thirties, I do not think body checking before bantam hindered
either one in their development as hockey players. Thinking back it was
not a big thing that body checking started in bantam. Both had coaches
that had practices in pee wee, that included learning to look after
themselves on the ice during games. Both had no problem adjusting to body
checking because of that, when a player is prepared to look after himself
it make a big difference in his approach to the game. I do know it was not
talked about, around the supper table, fear is a learned reaction to some
thing you don't know how to deal with. Both still enjoy playing the game.
One pays to play the other, is paid to play.
Jim Holden, Parent
Whoever will listen:
I am in total agreement with the concept of eliminating body checking in
minor hockey for as long as possible. Quite frankly, I fail to
understand why the rules in this area were ever changed. In my
capacity as President of our hockey association I do not allow body
checking at any age. I feel strongly that the emphasis should be on
skill development, not on putting someone through the boards. It is
mind boggling to me that the rules were changed to allow body checking at
so young an age.
Wayne M. Robbins
President, Avenue Road Hockey Association