Hockey Calgary Body Checking Motions
At the Hockey Calgary AGM on June 23rd 2012, member associations voted against motions 1 and 2 to remove checking from Peewee, Bantam & Midget in minor hockey. As a result, body checking will remain part of peewee hockey for the 2012/2013 season.
It is expected that the issue will now move to Hockey Alberta to see if the rules on checking can be amended provincially. Below is background information on the issue and BRBHA survey results.
FULL BODY CHECKING SURVEY RESULTS CAN BE DOWNLOADED HERE
Body Checking Motions
Hockey Calgary has proposed two motions to be voted on at their June AGM with respect to body checking.
Effective the 2012/2013 season body checking will be removed from the age category of peewee.
Effective 2013/2014 season body checking will be removed from Bantam excluding elite and community divisions 1 through 3 and effective 2014/2015 body checking will be removed from midget excluding elite and community divisions 1 through 3.
It is important to note that these motions will only impact hockey played in Calgary (Zone 9) and has no jurisdiction or influence over any other zone in Alberta or Canada.
Hockey Calgary established a body checking committee in 2011 that was charged with the examination of body checking in Calgary. Terms of reference were established for this committee and members of the Committee were selected from an application process. The Committee was made up of mixed backgrounds and experiences and included medical professionals, past hockey players, a current NHL official and they spent hundreds of hours examining the issues related to body checking, examined the studies available that looked at injuries in hockey related to body checking and reached out to wide network of hockey experts. The result was a report that was presented to the Hockey Calgary Board. Click here to open the report in a new window.
In summary the Committee recommended the following:
I. In order to reduce the frequency and severity of injuries suffered by minor hockey players in Calgary it is recommended that the number of players exposed to body checking in game situations be reduced by September 1, 2012.
There are different ways that this might be accomplished. The following is recommended at this time:
1. Reduce the exposure to body checking in game situations to all but the most skilled and competitive divisions in Calgary Minor Hockey. In other words, eliminate body checking from:
a. Pee Wee Divisions 4-10
b. Bantam Divisions 3-10
c. Midget Divisions 3-10
2. And maintain body checking for:
a. Pee Wee Divisions 1-3
b. Bantam Divisions 1-2
c. Midget Division 1-2
The benefit of this approach includes:
· a reduction in the absolute number of minor hockey players exposed to body checking in game situations thereby reducing the number of injuries sustained.
· continued competiveness of divisions with players who may have the opportunity to play in provincial championships or who may qualify for play with a Quadrant hockey team either as a regular player or as an affiliate.
The challenges of this approach may include:
· association evaluations and the decision to include body checking or not.
· movements of teams following the completion of the seeding round especially if the movement crosses the boundary from a non body checking team to a body checking team or vice versa.
It will be necessary to consider the timing and importance of teaching body checking skills to players who are most likely to be moved up to a body checking team in their second year of play, even if their current team is not otherwise body checking. It may also be necessary to institute this change in a stepwise fashion, depending on the logistics of the change with respect to the Hockey Calgary registration process. If so, it is recommended that this change be initiated with the youngest age group.
II. Mandatory coaching education and certification requirements related to body checking.
1. It is recommended that Hockey Calgary convene a further sub-committee to review the role of coaching and coach education/training and their effect on injuries in minor hockey. This group could also assemble/develop further resources to support skill development with respect to pre-body checking skills and body checking itself. Several of the body checking sub-committee members were willing to assist with this recommendation should it come to pass.
2. It is recommended that coaches teach proper body checking techniques (step 4 of the Body Checking skill progression) in practice situations to all players from Pee Wee level and up. In addition, a focus on pre body checking skills should be emphasized in the divisions below Pee Wee (steps 1-3 of the Body Checking skill progression).
3. It is recommended that Hockey Calgary issue a short manual to all coaches of body checking league teams outlining body checking techniques including checking with two (2) hands on the stick and having the stick below the waist when body checking.
4. It is recommended that Hockey Calgary provide a mandatory coaching certification seminar for body checking skills, required to be obtained, at a minimum, by one coach per team at one age group below that at which body checking is permitted. This is to be obtained by the coach prior to December 31st. Each team of body checking category (age and division) is recommended to have a minimum of one coach obtain the body checking certification prior to October 31st.
5. Through education, coaches should be encouraged to use proper terminology when referring to body checking with players and refrain from using the term “hitting” to refer to body checking.
III. Rule Changes
1. Write a rule that indicates no body checking is allowed below the goal line on the initial fore check to reduce the high speed body checks that may otherwise ensue against the end boards.
IV. Baseline testing for all individuals exposed to body checking
1. The implementation of baseline testing by Hockey Calgary or their designate for all players who are playing in a body checking division is highly recommended.
2. It is recommended that Hockey Calgary liaise with the medical and scientific community to determine the most appropriate tool for use as a baseline, the training required to properly complete this testing and the timing and frequency of this testing with respect to the onset of the season (Dr. Brian Brooks, Neuropsychologist, Alberta Children’s Hospital, University of Calgary professionals).
3. Cost will likely be an additional consideration with respect to this recommendation.
V. Arena Modifications
1. It is recommended that Hockey Calgary consider a visually enhanced “Danger Zone” on arena ice surfaces by painting a light blue zone 3’-5’ from the boards around the entire ice surface.
VI. Further Evaluation
1. It is recommended that Hockey Calgary develop and implement clear guidelines around mandatory injury reporting and return-to-play for all teams by September 1, 2012.
2. It is highly recommended that any changes made to policy regarding body checking in minor hockey in Calgary be further evaluated to ensure they are achieving the desired results. Based on this information, further alterations may be made in the future. It is advised that Hockey Calgary discuss this recommendation with the University of Calgary to ensure well-designed studies and evaluation of these important changes. Further contributions to the literature base on this topic will provide further support to our own jurisdiction and support other jurisdictions in the making of evidence based decisions.
VII. Provincial Strategy
Finally, given the strength and abundance of the injury data available related to body checking and the Pee Wee age group, it is highly recommended that Hockey Calgary raise this issue with Hockey Alberta. A major barrier to reducing injuries in this age group reflects provincial play and logistics of crossing jurisdictions. Removal of body checking from any single jurisdiction of Hockey Alberta would be challenging. Given the number of jurisdictions evaluating this concern it would be appropriate to review this issue at the provincial level.
Hockey Calgary’s Motions
Hockey Calgary, over the course of two evening meetings, decided it would not be in the best interest of hockey in Calgary to follow the recommendations of the Committee and decided to move forward in a markedly different direction. As a result, their two motions were prepared and presented to the hockey associations for us to consider and vote on at Hockey Calgary’s June AGM on June 23.
This year there are 54 votes that are spread out over all of the hockey associations in Calgary. Bow River has 4 of these votes. Hockey Calgary does not have a vote in this matter unless there is a tie and then the President of Hockey Calgary may vote to break the tie.
Bow River’s Decision
The Bow River board has taken the issue of body checking in hockey very seriously. This has been a topic of board conversation over the past year in anticipation of this event. In addition to the work that has been done by the board, we conducted a survey of our members to seek the views of our members and we will have this as an agenda item for discussion and Q&A at our AGM on June 18th. As a result of the work done on this topic and the feedback recieved by members the board voted unanimously to vote against the motions at the Hockey Calgary AGM.
Please note the survey is now closed, thank you to everyone that contributed their views.
On behalf of the Board,