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Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Hockey Night in Canada - Body checking going to the penalty box

Gone for 2013 are the Canucks, Canadians and Maple Leafs – and going is body checking.   Shame about the first three but this posting is about body checking.

Nova Scotia was second out of the block, followed the next day by Alberta and one can assume other provincial minor hockey league governing bodies will quickly follow suit. The announcement for the upcoming year is the elimination of body checking in the Pee Wee competitive leagues.   Quebec which still leads Canada in many aspects of protecting the public’s health has not permitted body checking until Bantaam ages for some time.  Many provinces have acted on body checking in the less competitive leagues and in women’s hockey already, so not a major jump.

Much of the rationale is based on evidence comparing Alberta and Quebec which demonstrated a three-fold increase in injuries including concussions at the Pee Wee level. The report is worth the read Hockey Calgary review 

Canadian and American Pediatric experts have recommended that body checking be precluded prior to age 15. Those that worry that Canadian players are at a disadvantage need only to look to Europe where leagues don’t allow the body to be used right through to age 15 and European players have taken a very prominent role in North American hockey because of their other skills in skating and shooting, and staying healthy. 

Of course, Pee Wee ages are just 11 and 12.  So there remains a gap in the policy that can better protect 13 and 14 year old Bantaams – and given young hockey players a better chance of ever even making a go at major hockey levels. 

Not that any of this is new, a 2009 review of 20 studies dating back to the late 90’s have consistently demonstrated the risk.  Clinical J Sport medicine 

A small win for health advocates.  Good luck Senators.

May 26th - two days ago, Hockey Canada moved to ban bodychecking under the age of 13.  A first step.  The Canadian icon of on-ice violence Don Cherry promptly dissed the national move.   The next day the Senators began their summer vacation.   

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