Body checking in peewee hockey will be put to a vote today in Charlottetown at Hockey Canada’s annual general meeting.
Paul Carson, Hockey Canada’s vice-president of hockey development, gave a 20-minute presentation to the delegates Friday morning. It included four recommendations, including removing checking for the 11- and 12-year-old players starting this fall.
“We’ll wait and see what the ultimate reaction is to the recommendations and what a motion might look like tomorrow,” he told The Guardian after the presentation.
He looked at three main areas before coming to the recommendations. They were player safety, skill development as well as recruitment and retention of young players.
The debate is by no means new. Carson said there was a position paper and recommendation put out by Canadian Minor Hockey Association coaching committee to remove checking from peewee 20 years ago.
He pointed to research that showed there is a three times greater risk of injury and four times greater risk of concussions in body checking environments in the peewee age category.
He added there is no “protective effective” by earlier introducing body checking.
“Body checking has been identified as the single most consistent risk factor for injuries in sports,” he said.
With Alberta and Nova Scotia passing motions earlier this year to increase the body checking age to bantam, Carson said, a national perspective is critical.
He doesn’t believe it would be a big adjustment for returning peewee players if a national change takes place.
“There are peewee teams that want to go to the Quebec international peewee tournament and that’s with no body checking,” Carson said. “They are more than capable of adjusting their game to go into that game for one week.”
Hockey Canada’s 48 voting members, which Prince Edward Island has two, are expected to vote on a motion this afternoon.
Branches each have two votes, except Ontario and Quebec which each have five, plus officers, council, Canadian Hockey League and two athlete representatives.
The four recommendations
u All Hockey Canada branches adopt the definition for body contact and body checking as a national standard.
u At the start of the 2013-14 season, the Hockey Canada board of directors remove body checking from all levels of peewee hockey, placing continued emphasis on body contact for this age group.
u A Hockey Canada and branch workgroup build a mandatory national checking educational and instructional resource program to support the progressive implementation of checking skills at the atom and peewee level and to better prepare players for body checking at the bantam and midget level.
– Hockey Canada continues to work collaboratively with research groups to investigate a number of areas of the game including but not limited to: injury rates, return to play protocols, skill acquisition, knowledge translation of coach education, and ongoing trends in registration.