IS THERE A PLACE FOR BODY CHECKING 
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, click here.

 
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 hockey. 

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" skills. 

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 here

 

 

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IS THERE A PLACE FOR BODY CHECKING 
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 player:
 
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 !

Edward Shapter

  
   
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 by
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 up
to a much higher level aa, aaa, semi-pro but had to leave the Association to
get there.
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 the
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 to
the 238 lb, he was quite happy to be on the same team. He got hit hard a few
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 teach
could bring it back. This child as decided to call it quits AND WILL NOT BE
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 people.

Denis
  
   
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 hospital.
 
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 former peers.
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 those door..
 
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 a tragedy.

Anna Cain
  

  
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. Thanks
  

 
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 released from
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 introduced.
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 is there 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.

Rep Hockey
In rep we should have players that are going to start checking read up and educate 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 violent players.
Up to Bantam level they should be taught how to follow beside the player and take them of the puck.  This can be a great skill builder. Teaching them 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 defensemen.
Bantam level down, there is various sizes of children playing, you may get 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 torn ligaments.
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 the children. 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 have better players that move on.  Always having the big guys we leave Canadian Hockey 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 actions. 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.

Kindest Regards,
Shane Adamson
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!
  
Steve Klask
 

 
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 leagues,
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?

Thanks,

Jeff Dunlop - Coach Cumberland Atom C House League
Ottawa, Ontario
 

 
You take body checking out of hockey and it's like taking tackling out of football.  Young children accidently 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 hockey players.

Thank You
Ken Renaud - VP Leduc Minor hockey Assoc.

 

 
Dear Editor:

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.

 

 
Greetings:

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 manageable chunks.

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 checking. ?

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.

Yours Truly,
Wayne M. Robbins
President, Avenue Road Hockey Association

 
 

 

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