Body checking has been removed from all Yellowknife minor hockey house league games.
Yellowknife Minor Hockey Association (YKMHA) members voted to ban body checking in recreational games at Tuesday night’s AGM.
The move follows similar decisions in Ontario and Quebec in March of this year. Alberta banned body checking in peewee hockey two years ago, calling it “the single most consistent risk factor for injuries and concussions in youth ice hockey”. Some cities in the province have now extended that ban to lower-level bantam divisions.
Steve Thompson, president of YKMHA, told Moose FM the vote to ban body checking had been close, with opinion split among the 56 members present.
“Some people will absolutely hate the idea,” Thompson admitted.
“A lot of the old-school parents say hockey is body checking and that’s the way it should be. But a lot of parents are saying their child doesn’t have to risk a concussion when they’re not trying to make the NHL, they’re just out there for fun.
“A lot of kids quit hockey when it comes to the ‘contact’ age because they don’t want to get hurt.
“The other side of the coin is the kids will potentially be travelling to tournaments where there is body checking, and they want to be prepared. That being said, Yellowknife minor hockey is still going to be offering clinics for the coaches to teach checking. It just won’t be allowed during the games.”
In full: Read the motion (motion 9) presented at Tuesday’s AGM (pdf)
Members passed a motion allowing teams to compete in tournaments with body checking, despite the house league ban.
“The coach can make the call on how much training they’ve done with a kid prior to going to the tournament,” said Thompson.
The body checking ban takes effect from the start of the coming season.
“We’re not naive enough to think we’ve just eliminated all concussions,” Thompson added. “We know for a fact that will never happen.
“But what we have done is mitigated that risk a bit better.
“Kids can go out and enjoy the game, which is really what it’s all about – making sure they stay with the sport as long as they can and love the game.”