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thegerkin

Alberta Peewee Hockey Bans Body Checking

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Eliminating body checking at the peewee level will eliminate 400 concussions and more than 1,000 injuries for 11- and 12-year-olds each year in Alberta, says Hockey Alberta.

"There is overwhelming evidence that body checking is the single most consistent risk factor for injuries and concussions in youth ice hockey,” wrote board chair Rob Virgil in a statement Wednesday. “Our players’ safety is the foundation in making this decision,” he said. Hockey Calgary will implement the ban this fall.

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Thoughts? I think checking is an integral part of hockey. To remove it would further soften an already softening game. I'm all for the reduction of concussions/injuries, of course, but banning checking is a pretty big step.

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USA Hockey implemented this same rule 2 years ago I think. USA Hockey did it on the campaign of improving the overall skill of young players, without the fear of being hit. I'm not a huge fan of the idea. I see where they are going with it. Safety issues were another big thing for them, as well as the article. One of my biggest concerns honestly comes down to body development. When kids are peewees, you have a majority of kids in the same boat when it comes to puberty. But when you get to Bantams you have some kids who are yet to hit it and more that have. I don't see too many real big kids playing against small kids in peewees, but I see it on almost a gamely basis in bantams. One thing I would like to see before they completely eliminate the hitting, is maybe try to just outlaw open ice hits in peewees. That way the hitting is still there, but taking steps up to full contact.

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I remember when USAH implemented that rule. I, like everyone, wants the players to avoid injury no matter the age. You're right about the size differential at the Bantam stage. Kid A hits a growth spurt and Kid B who hasn't get's Kid Rocked (sorry). I like the idea of banning open ice hits at those younger levels. What I'm afraid of is that this rule change hasn't made it's way up the development ladder and the kids who haven't learned how to check properly will be at a huge disadvantage in higher leagues that don't have that rule.

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Soon the NO HITTING LEAGUE will follow suite. For fear of someone that 5 9 might get crushed by chara.

Or even better. No one over 6 feet can body check.

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I have been refereeing for a number of years now and I have done everything from Peewee all the way up to Varsity hockey in West Michigan. In that time, I have seen a number of rule changes. When they announced that they were removing checking from Peewee hockey, I was a supporter and still am today. For a number of PW teams and players, they are still learning the fundamentals of hockey. You had a number of players who were just out to hit and didn't have the basic skills down. Eliminating checking in PW hockey really helped the development of these kids. Now, two years after the rule was put in place, it really has improved the passing and chemistry of these games. Bantam hockey is a much better product because the kids are not only able to pass and shoot better, but the hitting is still there in that aspect of the game.

Now, some people think that no hitting means no contact. There is still contact, but its all about intent. For instance, if you have to players going shoulder to shoulder into the corner to play the puck, using your size and strength to get the puck is allowed. You can't body check someone out of the way, but you can contact the other player and use your size and strength for body positioning.

I know some people here are saying "No hit league" and that the rule sucks, but this is something that most hockey parents, refs, and coaches really like.

ogreslayer likes this

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I can see advantages and disadvantages either way. You don't want 11 and 12 year olds getting hurt obviously. The problem is that kids don't know how to ht properly when they are young and are more prone to making dangerous hits. I was a small 11 year old and I remember getting rocked several times.

However, if you eliminate hitting for peewee a, it will be bantams who don't really know how to hit. Since bantams are much bigger and faster, these dangerous hits will be made even more dangerous.

I think they need to slowly work players into hitting, starting as either squirts or peewees. I don't know how easy it will be to "work them in", but it seems like that would be the safest way.

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USA hockey works these kids into hitting by having them make contact with other players in the Peewee level. Yes, there are no checks, but at least they get them used to body contact at a young age. I guess it depends on your definition of "working them in" though. There could be a better option though.

I can tell you that more parents, refs, and coaches like hockey at the PW level much more after the rule change to take checking out. The end result has been more skilled players at the Bantam level. I do get what you are saying though. Will the Bantam players be ready for checking at that level? You have to keep in mind that the PW players were being taught checking a couple years ago so they had to stop checking in order to play PW the last couple years. So the ones getting into Bantam were already taught the fundamentals. I think this will be one rule that will be re-evaluated in a couple years.

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These are children. I don't see any problem with the rule.

Soon the NO HITTING LEAGUE will follow suite. For fear of someone that 5 9 might get crushed by chara.


Or even better. No one over 6 feet can body check.

Yep, because from peewee it's only ONE STEP to the top hockey league in the world. :D

Edited by Crymson

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These are children. I don't see any problem with the rule.

Yep, because from peewee it's only ONE STEP to the top hockey league in the world. :D

Taking checking out of hockey is like taking tackling out of football. When I started playing i did an instructional hockey team for two years. And was properly taught how to check. And what not. I understand protecting kids. But properly teaching them is the answer not just flat out removing it.

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Taking checking out of hockey is like taking tackling out of football. When I started playing i did an instructional hockey team for two years. And was properly taught how to check. And what not. I understand protecting kids. But properly teaching them is the answer not just flat out removing it.

Impact is impact, and TBIs are especially bad news for a developing brain.

Your analogy to football is fundamentally incorrect. If tackling were to be removed from football, the game would no longer function. If hitting were removed from hockey, the sport would still function perfectly; it would just be less entertaining. See women's Olympic hockey for details.

Edited by Crymson
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I personally don't think a rule to protect children is going to have any adverse effect on a league for adults that get paid millions to play. There's a pretty drastic difference. I don't have kids yet, so my opinion is irrelevant to what i'm about to put forward, but as a parent teaching my kid how to play a sport i'd like to focus on skill and sportsmanship over telling him as an 11 year old that it's okay to hit that other kid on the opposing team. Sure I agree completely that hitting is part of the sport, but at that age of human and character development i'm not opposed to non-hitting hockey leagues for the sake of values and learning at that age.

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I personally don't think a rule to protect children is going to have any adverse effect on a league for adults that get paid millions to play. There's a pretty drastic difference. I don't have kids yet, so my opinion is irrelevant to what i'm about to put forward, but as a parent teaching my kid how to play a sport i'd like to focus on skill and sportsmanship over telling him as an 11 year old that it's okay to hit that other kid on the opposing team. Sure I agree completely that hitting is part of the sport, but at that age of human and character development i'm not opposed to non-hitting hockey leagues for the sake of values and learning at that age.

I think the problem with hitting in the lower leagues is they don't teach how to check or how to take one. Are they also teaching them why? Checking a guy is to try and take him off the puck not cream him. There is a purpose and is it being taught?

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Thoughts? I think checking is an integral part of hockey. To remove it would further soften an already softening game. I'm all for the reduction of concussions/injuries, of course, but banning checking is a pretty big step.

Hitting should be in hockey from the age of 7. Kids should learn it and live it from an early age so as to learn it clean. Peewee kids are so excited to start hitting that they're all going for the Kronwalling in the middle of the ice. If they start hitting when they start playing hockey, you won't see the kids getting all riled up to kill eachother once the hitting starts. I remember Peewee when I started hitting, and I was a small kid....I got charged at a lot. Kids need to be brought up as clean checkers, not thrown into the fire when they're almost teenagers.

Bad move Alberta.

Impact is impact, and TBIs are especially bad news for a developing brain.

Your analogy to football is fundamentally incorrect. If tackling were to be removed from football, the game would no longer function. If hitting were removed from hockey, the sport would still function perfectly; it would just be less entertaining. See women's Olympic hockey for details.

Please don't make us watch womens hockey :paperbag3: . Nothing against women, but their hockey is slow and boring.

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USA hockey works these kids into hitting by having them make contact with other players in the Peewee level. Yes, there are no checks, but at least they get them used to body contact at a young age. I guess it depends on your definition of "working them in" though. There could be a better option though.

I can tell you that more parents, refs, and coaches like hockey at the PW level much more after the rule change to take checking out. The end result has been more skilled players at the Bantam level. I do get what you are saying though. Will the Bantam players be ready for checking at that level? You have to keep in mind that the PW players were being taught checking a couple years ago so they had to stop checking in order to play PW the last couple years. So the ones getting into Bantam were already taught the fundamentals. I think this will be one rule that will be re-evaluated in a couple years.

More skilled is good, but when you actually do start hitting, do you know how to take a hit, or throw a hit, or know when to avoid a hit, or not give your guys suicide passes? No to all of these. I understand being safe, but the longer you delay the hitting, the worse it'll get when they start. At bantam when kids get really fast and bigger, the hitting will be out of control. Bring it in after Timbit hockey so they learn it early.

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If they are going to ban hitting, they should at least make it mandatory to teach these kids how to deliver a check and how to take and avoid one so that they aren't disadvantaged when they progress.

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My take on this depends on how the games are called. I remember spending a large amount of time in peewee learning how to check and how to take a check, but there were a lot of players who went for dangerous hits.

IMO this would be best as a hybrid. Allow players to play the body, pin along the boards, battle for the puck using the body, etc. but don't allow them to overly physical. That is, allow checking in the basic sense of using the body to get the puck, but don't allow checking for the purpose of knocking another player down.

If they can ref this like hooking, where a small hook is okay but when you stop skating and iimpede a player's progress it is a penalty, it should be a good rule change. If they ref the game as they would for squirts, I don't like the change.

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I have been refereeing for a number of years now and I have done everything from Peewee all the way up to Varsity hockey in West Michigan. In that time, I have seen a number of rule changes. When they announced that they were removing checking from Peewee hockey, I was a supporter and still am today. For a number of PW teams and players, they are still learning the fundamentals of hockey. You had a number of players who were just out to hit and didn't have the basic skills down. Eliminating checking in PW hockey really helped the development of these kids. Now, two years after the rule was put in place, it really has improved the passing and chemistry of these games. Bantam hockey is a much better product because the kids are not only able to pass and shoot better, but the hitting is still there in that aspect of the game.

Now, some people think that no hitting means no contact. There is still contact, but its all about intent. For instance, if you have to players going shoulder to shoulder into the corner to play the puck, using your size and strength to get the puck is allowed. You can't body check someone out of the way, but you can contact the other player and use your size and strength for body positioning.

I know some people here are saying "No hit league" and that the rule sucks, but this is something that most hockey parents, refs, and coaches really like.

I understand all of your points, but disagree. Kid's would be better prepared if they developed skill with the fear of being checked... because that is what they will face when they play the real game. Beyond that, I see it as a deliberate bottom up approach to making hockey a softer game, which I don't agree with.

"You had a number of players who were just out to hit and didn't have the basic skills down" Sounds like hockey to me! Relatively speaking, a lot of the goons in the NHL today don't have the basic skills down, at least compared to non-gritty players on the team. Sounds like your just describing a microcosm of the NHL.

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I understand all of your points, but disagree. Kid's would be better prepared if they developed skill with the fear of being checked... because that is what they will face when they play the real game. Beyond that, I see it as a deliberate bottom up approach to making hockey a softer game, which I don't agree with.

"You had a number of players who were just out to hit and didn't have the basic skills down" Sounds like hockey to me! Relatively speaking, a lot of the goons in the NHL today don't have the basic skills down, at least compared to non-gritty players on the team. Sounds like your just describing a microcosm of the NHL.

Your tune might change if your own child were to suffer a stage-three concussion on the ice. In addition to all of the common symptoms, this would also make him tremendously more susceptible to future concussions.

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Your tune might change if your own child were to suffer a stage-three concussion on the ice. In addition to all of the common symptoms, this would also make him tremendously more susceptible to future concussions.

Since you arrogantly presume to tell me how I might feel about my own child... let's take your logic and run with it. Your assertion suggests I should support removing checking from hockey entirely, at any level...because after all, whether my child is in peewee or in the NHL, they are still my child. Or perhaps your assertion is that stage three concussions are only an issue (more harmful?) at the peewee level?

Rather, I would offer up an alternative view point relating to my own child. That is, instead of trying to alter the game of hockey, I will put my son in hockey knowing that he unfortunately runs a risk of a concussion... because hitting is a part of the game. As well, teach him to play smart, keep his head up, and protect himself.

Edit: As well, the onus needs to be on the leagues and the parents to effect rule changes (slow the game down) and harsher penalties to limit concussions.

Edited by RedWingsDad

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Kids don't want to learn how to check at that age for the most part(meaning checking properly, they obviously want to hit). Their skillset is undeveloped, and taking checking out of the game until they have a solid grasp and the cognitive ability to understand when, how and why bodychecking is allowed in the NHL I completely agree with Alberta's decision. All it takes is one kid to not know the skill to make an huge negative impact. Even if 95% of the kids could hit properly, there is still going to be situations where checking from behind, elbows etc. get up because the kid doesn't understand the consequences of the play. That's not even mentioning the fact that even legal checks can severely hurt a young player. There is still a lot to teach kids about the game, teach them to be strong on the skates along the boards, teach them how to protect the puck, teach them how to cycle, just because you can't lay someone out doesn't mean you can't teach the player to be strong on the puck during battles and to protect themselves.

I understand that some want kids to learn how to protect themselves at a young age, but in my opinion that's like letting a kid drive a car immediately off the lot and just let him learn as they go, putting other people and themselves in danger. There is a reason in society that responsibilities have to earned over time, and I don't see why hockey should be any different. Kids hitting each other put them at more risk, because their mind and body is still developing, and concussions can happen from perfectly legal checks. I don't see why any parent would be against this, but then again I'm just a 23 year old.

Edited by Carman
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Kids don't want to learn how to check at that age for the most part(meaning checking properly, they obviously want to hit). Their skillset is undeveloped, and taking checking out of the game until they have a solid grasp and the cognitive ability to understand when, how and why bodychecking is allowed in the NHL I completely agree with Alberta's decision. All it takes is one kid to not know the skill to make an huge negative impact. Even if 95% of the kids could hit properly, there is still going to be situations where checking from behind, elbows etc. get up because the kid doesn't understand the consequences of the play. That's not even mentioning the fact that even legal checks can severely hurt a young player. There is still a lot to teach kids about the game, teach them to be strong on the skates along the boards, teach them how to protect the puck, teach them how to cycle, just because you can't lay someone out doesn't mean you can't teach the player to be strong on the puck during battles and to protect themselves.

I understand that some want kids to learn how to protect themselves at a young age, but in my opinion that's like letting a kid drive a car immediately off the lot and just let him learn as they go, putting other people and themselves in danger. There is a reason in society that responsibilities have to earned over time, and I don't see why hockey should be any different. Kids hitting each other put them at more risk, because their mind and body is still developing, and concussions can happen from perfectly legal checks. I don't see why any parent would be against this, but then again I'm just a 23 year old.

This is not just an appeal to tradition (fallacy), but for how long has NA hockey had hitting at the peewee level? How many concussions? Has this always been an issue we are just now addressing? If it wasn't always an issue, what changed?

I honestly don't know the answer to these question, and am too lazy to look them up now, but they would seem to be relevant to the discussion.

Edited by RedWingsDad

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This is not just an appeal to tradition (fallacy), but for how long has NA hockey had hitting at the peewee level? How many concussions? Has this always been an issue we are just now addressing? If it wasn't always an issue, what changed?

I honestly don't know the answer to these question, and am too lazy to look them up now, but they would seem to be relevant to the discussion.

I know I for had a concussion at 14, I know many teammates that ha them as well. Granted this isn't statistical proof just personal experience.

I'd imagine the main change to increase concussions would be pads, the force of impact has to be much more significant now a days with hard football style shoulder and elbow pads, if they don't directly increase them, the feeling of being invincible with newer pads must play some role in players taking more risks in physical play.

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Problem is nobody teaches these kids how to check or how to take/avoid one. And kids at that age aren't out there to kill one another I would be willing to bet 90% of those injuries come from illegal checks or situation where the player being hit was unprepared.

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