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I just had a good conversation with an NHL linesman that came to my hockey schools for years when he was a kid. He is on a committee that is looking into the role of body checking in minor hockey. The solution that has been announced but not approved yet is that there won't be any body checking until Bantam (13-14 yrs.) Then it will be just for the higher level teams. (in Calgary they have 4 quadrants starting at Bantam where they skim the players from the communities in that area of the city and have AA and AAA teams. The associations have Division 1 -2 -3 etc. as in the European Soccer/Football leagues) So the body checking would only be in quadrant hockey and the first few divisions.

Don spotted me at Tim Hortons and asked me to discuss this proposal with him. He was on the committee that made recommendations but not all of them were adopted and he wants to get input from people who have coached a lot of hockey and find their thoughts on the matter.

He wants to see the sticks down and hitting for the sake of hitting eliminated.

I told him that in my opinion there needs to be two interpretations to the rules.

1. One step only allowed before contact.
2. Stick on the puck and body on body. (if the stick is up then it is a penalty)

I would call these rules until U16 and then allow the 2 steps that is now allowed but still call the 'body on body and stick on the puck' . The main reason is that 'body on body and stick on the puck' is the best technique to create a good checking angle to separate the player from the puck and gain puck possession. (isn't that the point of body checking)

What are Your Thoughts on the question of body contact in minor hockey????


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Tom,

Funny you mention Donny (my next door neighbour). The fact you 'bumped into him' at a Timmy's... classic! What are you guys; retired cops or teachers?!

I was at Easter dinner yesterday when my cousin, who also knows Donny, told me he saw Donny on TV last week talking about the discussion surrounding the proposal. My cousin said Donny came across as being pretty adamant against the proposal. I have yet to talk to Donny myself (he has been away lots this last month; he has been home since Saturday now) but will probably see him depending on if he gets assigned some playoff games.

As per my original post in the "Article" thread when this thing was first announced a couple of weeks ago, the day this announcement / press conference occurred, I was accosted by many people in the rinks that day, all airing their opinions to me and asking me what "I was going to do about it" as it seemed the most vocal people were those AGAINST removing body checking from Pee Wee.

To be honest, I didn't care one way or another. However, looking at the concussion studies from Quebec and Alberta, I think I am in favour of the removal. After coaching female hockey for many years, I actually like their game better as it puts more emphasis on pure skill (skating, puck control, etc.) and encourages angling and bumping along the boards.

Ultimately, I think the male side may go this way in due time due to the risks of injury and concussion. I have heard that minor football is teetering on it's deathbed; I have heard discussions within the Calgary Board and Catholic Board (and this is apparently stretching across all the Boards in Canada) saying that the inherent risk and liability potential of football in the school system may mean it will be removed. Ditto for bantam football. If the 'base' goes, it will eventually impact Junior, University and pro football in a matter of years.

Unless hockey (and Lacrosse, etc.) clean up their respective acts, all of these sports may soon find there will not be an insurance company in existence that will 1) provide AFFORDABLE coverage (the problem that is beginning to rear it's head now) or 2) ANY COVERAGE!

Back to the the topic at hand - checking in Pee Wee or not.

After hearing the new ruling would only apply to the levels at Div 4 and below, I thought that was an even better idea. Less coaches who would need to be trained... because 1) 'we' (Certification Organizations - Hockey Canada / Hockey Alberta / Hockey Calgary - so all levels - are doing a piss-poor job of providing GOOD training 2) BEFORE the season starts 3) to ALL STAKEHOLDERS - including the players and coaches!

I thought it was a 'done deal' already due to what I heard from the press releases, the people at the rink and on the radio.

I was in meetings at Hockey Canada all that weekend and I brought the topic up. The people at Hockey Canada felt it was strange that Hockey Calgary would do a press release and hold a press conference to say 'we are thinking about changing to no body checking'; which it turns out, is what is happening. So it isn't 'a done deal'. We got so involved in talking about why Hockey Calgary would go to these extreme steps to broadcast a non-event, we actually didn't talk about what Hockey Canada thought...

Tom, I really like your interpretation even more. And the fact that it would carry on into higher levels too. Bantam, Minor Midget, and Midget. I think this is a great version and I hope you convinced Donny! Maybe you need to make a phone call to the president of minor hockey?

My reservations remain. 1) Provide GOOD TRAINING 2) DO IT IN A TIMELY FASHION (before the season starts) 3) FOR BOTH THE PLAYERS AND COACHES!

It must be mandatory. Kids and coaches need to be properly equipped prior to tryouts so everyone feels comfortable.


Dean
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This rule change was implemented by USA Hockey this past season, and they are in the process of collecting feedback from coaches. While I coached Bantams, I did get a chance to see quite a few pee wee games, and what disturbs me is the absence of consistent officiating. It is paramount that the refs are educated and call games consistently. It is quite frustrating as a coach to teach legal body contact to players, only to have illegal actions reinforced by non-calls in game. I also worry about some of the bad habits like skating head down through the NZ that I observed. I can't say for sure that this is a result of the rule change, but it is something to consider. In my opinion, we should get away from separating contact and checking. There should be significant body contact at the pee wee level, while reducing dangerous hits by proper coaching and officiating. When we talk about "non-checking" I think players, parents and even some coaches/officials get the wrong idea about what a legal check looks like, which can lead to an increase in illegal and dangerous plays at bantams and midgets. It would be better just to modify the “contact/checking” rules as a whole and tailoring them to the specific age groups as appropriate without specifically calling a group “non-check”. Again, as most officials cover multiple age groups, it would probably be a challenge to get everyone on the same page and calling games consistently, which is the biggest factor that will reinforce safe and fair play at all levels.

Dave
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Dave that is one of the reasons why the call should be simplified to one stride contact and 'stick on the puck and body on body' at the younger ages and 'body on body and stick on the puck' in U15 and up. This makes it easier for the refs to call and the stick has to be trying to be on the puck which automatically creates a good 'safe' checking angle.

A few months ago I appealed for the 'Brad McCrimmon Rule' as 'Body on body and stick on the puck' was the theme of his talk at the coaching conference a few years ago.

I sent the new thumbdrive today and included the second ABC coaching manual.
Tom

   
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I totally agree Tom. I was thinking about it when I wrote the original post. I thought it made it in there, but apparently not. I also think its very important that the call NOT be “checking” call it a roughing or whatever. Otherwise you deal with the stick on body, feet off the ice, opponents head into the boards hit, then field complaints that “we are not playing pee wees anymore. Checking is legal.” Yes, I've actually heard stuff like this even before the rule change. Officials calling the game correctly is a very important way to effect the changes we'd all like to see, and in my opinion, the best way (obviously we also need to continue to educate coaches also). If it is ALWAYS called, it will quickly become obvious that a particular play is illegal. You'd think that this would be easy to correct, but some officials choose to call things the “old” way or to “just let them play.” Maybe some of them don't understand the new rule. I don't know, but it was a problem in my area last season. I actually had an official tell me “it is just amateur hockey!” in response to a no call on a dangerous hit. I'm sorry pal, but you are paid, that makes you a professional, and one that is tasked with helping eliminate some of the danger to our youngsters. Enough said.

Sorry to all you refs out there, and thank you for sharing your time. I will stop my rant now.

Dave

And thanks for the Book 2 Tom. :-)

   
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The governing bodies, in my opinion, need to put out free video demonstrating (A) what is/is not legal body contact and (Cool what is/is not legal checking, for all common checking/battling situations on the ice. Yes, USAH tried to do this, but the calls are way to easy to make in their video. They need to show as best they can what the line is between illegal/legal contact and what the potential gray areas are. I think the video would expose inadequacies in the current rules and rule changes like Tom suggests would become more appealing.

   
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Registered: 03/30/10
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Dave,

Don't sweat the rant. It is a strong opinion based on experience and is valuable for others to hear. We need to learn from the wisdom of others!

rcmat / dajmitch I like hearing from the officiating and governing body perspective. Both views must also be at the table as they should have something valuable to add to this discussion.

Tom, I spoke with Donny this afternoon and he is going to forward me all the policy stuff he has from Hockey Calgary and we are going to meet in the next couple of days to discuss it. He mentioned his idea about a Yellow Caution Area running around the entire circumference of the rink, four feet wide. This is the danger Zone and body checking would not be allowed in there. He also is a proponent of tiering body checking. Pee Wee Div 5 and below is body contact; not body checking. At the levels above, it allows for body checking. Good ideas. I wonder though if players and coaches will find some way to 'take advantage of' this Yellow area? Seems to be human nature... exploit the rules while ignoring the purity of their intent. Then it becomes a Nuclear arms race... once one person goes against the intent and gains an advantage, others will follow - using this original violation as justification.

-----

At the end of the day, IF

1) the coaches understood what body checking was and how to teach it best;

2) the coaches reinforced the philosophy of separating the man from the puck (not the head from the man);

3) the coaches believed in and always presented an immaculate fair play philosophy (sitting their own player(s)) if they took a stupid penalty... or still sat them if the ref missed it... maybe even sent them to the dressing room - because they held the purity of the game in highest stead (winning was not the only thing, as Lombardi liked to say); the players respected each other and wouldn't think or hurting the opponent;

<Hmmm... why do golf professionals report their own score and hold themselves to a higher standard than hockey players / coaches / refs / parents / fans? Just a thought...>


4) the referees knew the letter of the law in the existing rule book, were inhuman so they called a perfect game without any bias, with exceptional eye sight in the back of their heads (360 degrees!), weren't out of shape / weren't lazy because the game didn't mean anything / it was the last few minutes, <insert stereotypical reason here>etc.;

5) the fans, coaches and parents never once yelled at their kids, the coaches, the refs about a disputed call / bad pass or should have shot / bad choice of who to put out...

In short, in a PERFECT world, if we all DID OUR OWN JOB WITHOUT WORRYING ABOUT ANYONE ELSE, we could have the existing rules in effect called perfectly (as best as humans could - so there would be mistakes but we would live with them and learn from them) without any debate.

We wouldn't even have this thread - weak or strong opinions. We would all be happy.

Funny thing is, a perfect world isn't that far off - if we just took responsibility for ourselves and acknowledged that everybody isn't perfect...


Coaches need to know HOW to coach giving and receiving a body check and I have yet to see this happen. (A failing of primarily the certification system, but coaches must also take some responsibility in this too.)

Players need to be taught the correct mechanics of giving and receiving a body check and I have yet to see this happen. (Same comment as above... organizations, coaches and players share some responsibility in this chain.)

I have seen some referees make what I consider bad calls. I have also seen them make good calls. They need to know the rules and execute them regardless of time, circumstance or the human condition. (Ditto.)

Fans and parents need to shut up - let the kids play, let the coaches coach and let the officials officiate. (Where do fans and parents learn good behaviour? I feel it has been on a steady decline and I can include society as a whole here. Where are your manners, UNCOMMON SENSE and decorum, people????!!!)[/b]

I ain't perfect either. I have been there, done that and as of the last 10 years, finally started to smarten up myself. I was part of the problem / decline of society too, but I am becoming smarter in my old age.

That is my philosophical rant for the day. Time to sleep like a baby... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


Dean
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Dean, I have said it before and I will repeat it.

Good technique and safety go hand in hand. We need the sticks down for safety but also for effective defensive play. We need players to create good checking angles for the same two reasons.

"Body on body and stick on the puck", as Brad emphasized, is both good technique and safe. It is also easy to call as either the player has his stick on the ice and is attempting to play the puck at the same time as contact or the stick is in the air.

I don't like the warning track idea but instead limit U13 to one step checking and U10 to only stick on the puck and incidental contact (as in women's hockey).

We don't need radical changes but instead Good Checking Technique that is Easy for Refs to Call.


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Dean your post made me chuckle. Big Grin But, you made a very good point about everyone mastering THEIR role in player safety.

I think Tom is on to somthing. It sounds like it would be fairly easy to implement, and would be met with less resistance by nay sayers.

If anyone is interested, this link is to USAH's checking manual they put out a few years ago with some help from Bjorn Kinding. I think it is pretty good, and offers some specific skills and drills for coaches to use. Some of the more basic stuff seems a little silly, but we went through it with our players anyway, and looking back, I think the simple stuff did make a difference in on ice technique and overall contact confidence.
http://usahockey.com/uploadedFiles/USAHockey/Menu_Coaches/Menu_Coaching_Materials/Menu_Checking_materials/Checking%20Manual_FINAL.pdf

Dave

   
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Dave,

Glad I could provide a laugh or two. And that was only written after one beer! I like Tom's idea too. Still waiting to hear form Donny. Not sure if he is reffing into the Cup playoffs or not. His truck was here today and I didn't see him on the lines tonight. I will post more about that discussion if / when it happens.

Checking Manuals:

A new guy at Hockey Canada asked me to write these last year; not knowing Hockey Alberta had already written them several years ago! Wow! I put him in touch with Hockey Alberta so as not to reinvent the wheel. I knew Bjorn had been previously contracted to finalize the Hockey Alberta checking manual and he consolidated what had been already done by a writers group primarily consisting of Hockey Alberta and Hockey Canada contributors (Larry Hoffmann being one name I know.) Then he (or Hockey Canada?) took that material and changed a few words / graphics and sold it to USA Hockey. Not sure where else?

The IIHF coaching manuals available online are almost identical to Canada's manuals - again with different graphics and a few different words. Hockey Canada provided them to the IIHF. I heard they have since been further translated and duplicated for other countries to use.

The Australia Institute of Sport (AIS) 'borrowed' much from Canada's 'old' National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) for their coach certification purposes. Not sure if money was involved but I know many Commonwealth countries 'cross-pollinate' different things...

Finally, Dr. Stephen Norris (a friend of mine - originally from the UK but a Canadian citizen now - lives about 20 minutes west of me... he taught me at the National Coach Institute in the early 1990's... we have shared an 'occasional' adult beverage or two and I helped mentor his son's pee wee team this year) Steve helped Canadian Sport for Life finish their LTAD, as well as some sport specific models, and he was subsequently hired by USA Hockey to help with what was / is branded the ADM. Again, much of that material is very similar to what we have here. So from a Brit, to the Canucks, to the Yanks.

In all of these situations, a transfer of knowledge across borders. Some 'sharing', some for profit, no doubt some blatant skulduggery... but at the end of the day, it is nice to see different nationalities coming together to help make better coaches. Much like this site.

In the end, it's all about the "HOW" you apply it. That's where the magic lies!




Dean
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Thought this would fit in here as part of this earlier discussion comments about how we should all take responsibility for our individual roles. Officials play an important role.

Coaches / players / parents / fans... Don't blame the refs; look at yourself in the mirror. Are you doing your job? It's a yes or no answer. Maybe is a no in my book.

I love the comment about perseverance in the face of adversity. This is a critical trait to have - for an individual and for a collective group or team.

Personally, I feel perseverance is the third-most important trait along the road to success. Passion fuels perseverance. The more passion, the better one can deal with challenges and bounce back.

(Being passionate is my number one trait and being open-minded and insatiably curious is my number two trait.)


-----


Perseverance, not referees, win playoff games

Rory Boylen, The Hockey News, 2012-04-10



It happens every year when a team falls behind in a game or a series or drops four out of seven. It’s silly, really, but there’s no avoiding it. And it becomes a deafening distraction from an exciting on-ice show.

I’m talking, of course, about the lunacy and convenience of conspiracy theories that blame referees for losses or suggest they favor certain teams.

So before the cacophony begins, let me be clear: If your team loses, it ain’t the referees’ fault.


While I doubt highly this will do anything to quell the desperate insanity of post-season finger pointing, I feel compelled to try anyway. The mere fact officials are professionals with an overflow of pride and integrity should be enough to put the biggest of whiners back in their seats. But again and again a minority of fans take on the part of sore loser and their actions and words roar louder than a more levelheaded majority. Social media does little to add coherent thought to such topics.

A hockey game is greatly impacted by the men in stripes who determine its flow and feel, but any suggestion they would intentionally throw a game in favor of one team is a coward’s way out. Referees are under the microscope, as they should be, with every call being judged and monitored by the league. All you can ask for is consistency and if that consistency means there are more liberal battles for position in front of the net or along the boards (something I thoroughly enjoy) you can’t complain about a “missed” cross-check minutes after the same non-call happened the other way.

Referees aren’t perfect with their calls. That’s not an excuse to let them off easy, but rather a clarifying statement explaining they are humans and will make a mistake from time to time, which is something that applies to every other walk of life.

Victory in the playoffs comes down to something this simple: Perseverance is the most important intangible to have. Whatever team-building philosophy you subscribe to – whether it’s based on skill, grit, experience, etc. – the determining factor always comes back to how your team reacts to a challenge.

The Bruins fell behind 2-0 in their opening round series to Montreal last season, couldn’t score a power play goal for the life of them and allowed a Game 7 game-tying goal with mere minutes left while shorthanded. We all know where the B’s were in June. Vancouver blew a 3-0 series lead against their nemesis from Chicago and had to kill off an Alex Burrows penalty in Game 7 overtime before Burrows put the Canucks in Round 2.

The difference between winners and losers in the post-season is the ability to overcome.

If your team allows a power play goal late in a tie game, it’s not the referee’s fault if they lose – they lost because of the scoring chance that was missed in the first period, the power play that wasn’t converted in the second or the plain-as-day fact the team didn’t step up and kill off that crucial shorthanded situation.

Winners endure and persevere. Losers find someone else to blame.


Dean
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Tom , Dean , Dave,

I have been coaching (helping) some young players at the Atom age level. These players are now moving up to Peewee and body checking will come into play this year.

Parents send their kids to body checking clinics so they can learn to give a hit and take a hit.

Or should we call them hitting clinics. . It is all about hitting , don't get me wrong players should learn proper technique s' , but what are we teaching them?

Young players don't understand stick on stick , body on body or how to contain a player and maintain defensive side positioning.
It's all about how hard they can hit , and usually they take themselves out of position.

I remember going over a video on this site Tom , where a coach has players paired off around the ice and one player skates back ( 7-10 ft )and forth while the other maintains stick on stick. The coach stopped the players for instruction , wanting the sticks on the ice ( pull in push out ) . Don't raise the stick up .

Tom you use a good drill similar to this only out of a corner . But on the whistle it's a 1-1.

Education on this topic is needed for all coaches, parents and players.
But talking about it is a start .

RK
---------------------------------------------------------
RK, You are right on about the focus on hitting instead of checking. Good technique has got to be the focus and that is the reason I think that bad technique should result in a penalty. The 'game will teach the game' and coaches will be forced to teach proper technique.
I start with the stick on stick drill that Gene Reilly does in the video and then go to drills like the one along the boards. If you want your players and team to be successful it is critical they have good technique. The bonus is that you don't take penalties.
There is also a video on teaching body checking I did at the Edge school with Jeff Hill a few years before I went to Austria.
Tom

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You are right on the money RK. It seems like there is a lot of focus by players and parents on the transition from atom (squirt) to peewee because of the introduction of checking. Maybe we could eliminate some of that anxiety/intimidation by not having such an obvious transition there. We allow contact at all age levels. As players develop, more aggressive play is allowed. Could we eliminate"check" and "non-check" from our vocabulary and speak instead about degrees of contact? Maybe parents make a big deal about it because WE make it a big deal. The kids are all focused on "yay, I can hit someone! BOOM!" I understand the difference between contact and checking, but I think we already try to use a tiered approach in the progression of checking from peewees to midget, but we don't call it half-check and full-check. I wonder what it would look like if there were some minor rule changes to support this tiered approach, and we changed our vocab.

Dave

   
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RK here is the same coach running a checking drill with the top pro team. They take the principles of dside, stick on stick and body on body and do a 2-2 drill.

http://hockeycoachingabcs.com/mediagallery/media.php?f=0&sort=0&s=20090903113821934

Any age could do this drill after they have practiced the lead up principles. After the drill you could have a 2-2 game where they change on the whistle and progress to a transtion game where the defense passes to the next attackers.


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Body checking forum will take place at the University of Calgary tonight...

details with lots of links, below:

http://www.hockeycalgary.ca/search/view/ID/219


Dean
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Parents divided on a bodychecking ban in peewee hockey

Deborah Tetley, Calgary Herald April 16, 2012



CALGARY — Hockey Calgary officials heard from parents and coaches on all sides of the bodychecking debate Monday night ahead of a leaguewide vote on the divisive issue.

While some parents expressed concerns that bodychecking prevents children from playing at their best, others fear eliminating checking for players under age 13 will be detrimental to their development.

It’s a division Hockey Calgary anticipated since announcing last month it will ask its member associations to support a ban on bodychecks for all peewee players.

“I am not surprised,” Todd Millar, president of Hockey Calgary, said following the meeting at the University of Calgary.

“But at the end of the day, if you can save kids playing peewee and community hockey by making some changes to the bodychecking rules, I think the answer is pretty clear.”

The board’s decision to ban bodychecking until the bantam level is the result of a five-year study of more than a thousand Calgary minor hockey players.

The study cites mounting evidence that bodychecking among younger players could increase the risk of injury and concussion.

Roughly 50 people attended Monday’s information session; the first of others to follow, said Millar.

Barbara Kimmet supports the ban because bodychecking affected her son’s play this past season, she said.

“He was more worried about hitting and being hit than he was about playing the game,” said Kimmet, whose son is 11 years old and just finished his first season of peewee.

“He plays better when he plays street or lake or driveway hockey because there is no checking. The hitting has really taken the fun out of the game.”

Parent Don Henderson, who is also a linesman with the National Hockey League, disagrees with an outright ban at the peewee level.

“From a development standpoint, they deserve the opportunity to learn and excel,” he said, adding players without checking experience might be overlooked at the higher levels of hockey.

Such a move would put players at a competitive disadvantage, he said.

“They deserve the opportunity to grow and flourish in the game.”

The city’s 24 hockey associations will vote on the motion at the annual general meeting June 23.

Quebec does not allow bodychecking at the peewee level, Ontario has taken body checking out of all levels for its house league programs, and USA Hockey has made a national decision to ban bodychecking during games at the peewee level.


Dean
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