Hockey Canada votes to ban bodychecking in peewee hockey
Saturday, May 25, 2013 - 14:40
The game of hockey will soon change for peewee-level players across the country after a vote by Hockey Canada on Saturday that banned bodychecking.
Hockey Canada's board of directors overwhelmingly voted to eliminate bodychecking for peewee players at its annual general meeting in Charlottetown on Saturday, with only the Saskatchewan Hockey Association voting against.
The decision comes in the same month that both Hockey Alberta and Hockey Nova Scotia did away with bodychecking for its peewee players, who are usually 11- and 12-years-old. Quebec had also previously banned it.
The Canadian Paediatric Society thinks it's a massive step in the right direction.
"The Canadian Paediatric Society applauds the leadership taken today by Hockey Canada to remove body-checking from Pee Wee level hockey across the country," Dr. Andrew Lynk, president of the organization, said in a press release. "This evidence-based decision puts brain safety first, and will enhance player development by focusing on fundamental skills, fun and lifetime fitness."
Debate over when to allow players to start hitting has inflamed emotions on both sides of the argument for years.
But research that came out of Alberta last year showed there was a three-fold increase in the risk of injuries for peewee players who check in Alberta, compared to those in Quebec where bodychecking is not allowed until bantam.
Paul Carson, vice-president of hockey development for Hockey Canada, said safety was a key factor in the board's decision. He said reaction at the meeting was mixed, but most thought it was the right move.
"While some would be reluctant because of their traditional beliefs of the game, they also understood that the safety and the area of skill development were critical issues to consider," said Carson on Saturday.