03.04.2013 10:42 AM

Hockey and kids and violence

As regulars know, I spend a lot of time in hockey rinks.  Two of my boys play in the GTHL, and one of them was seriously injured a few weeks ago in a tournament in London. His hip was fractured, his spine was bruised, and the other leg was injured, too.  No call was made on the hit.

As I dropped my son off at St. Mike’s this morning, and watched him hobble into school on his crutches, I got mad again.  And then I heard on Metro Morning that lots of people are also getting fed up with this outrageous situation, and that Angus Reid had done a poll about it.

Here’s a slide from their deck; the link is under it.

I plan to write more about this in the Sun.  In the meantime, I will pledge my vote to any political party or candidate that deals with this effectively, right now.  I’ll help them out, too.

Is anyone prepared to do it?


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    jack says:

    Not sure what any politician can do to stop this. Ultimately this is the responsibility of the Association, the coaches and the parents. This year, I watched a lot of Novice (ages 7-8) and there were also teams that were rough and deliberatley hitting kids. In analyzing this it became apparent that the front line, the coaches have the most influence here. And by teaching kids sportsmanship and how to play hockey at this age, it will also be good for the future. There is much the Association can do also if they can forget about the politics. Finally, parents hold a lot of power and control also. Coaches must be prepared to pull kids out of games who are violently playing the game and the Associations must track injuries like concussions, demand incident reports and enforce strict and harsh penalties. My kid had fantastic coaches this year and it made a huge difference. The real question, however, is, do those that can make a difference have the courage and will to do it? It can be done.

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    dave says:

    Grandkids let me squeeze in a bit more coaching past few years. Outdoor soccer, two seasons, and a twisted knee; indoor(futsal) two seasons of 2 games a week for 5 months and one sprained ankle.

    Late 1960’s NHL expanded, and into the 1970’s individual and team violence in both NHL and Major Junior hockey was a part of being successful. As well ‘our style’ triumphed over the Russians’ style.
    But something else began to happen, parents had a few choices, and they looked at hockey comapred to other choices, and participation at the local level began to erode. In sports like hockey, you will always get the Parents and kids who have NHL dreams, kids born in the 1st half of the year gettting the rep team positions from Atom age, but yoou need the broad base of fees paying parents and kids in it fo the fitness/social/ fun benefits. So when the latter group chooses other activities, you have to do something.
    Suddenly, end of 1970’s, amateur hockey discovered that kids should not body contact before a certain age; rules about fighting happened to ban gang ups and restrict where to hit a guy. Refs were encouraged to tighten their calls. Parent behaviour contracts popped up here and there.
    Of course, Edmonton Gretzkies in the 1980’s helped hockey a lot.

    If odds of injury go up, parents will choose other activities for their kids. Hockey is a fair expense commitment – fewer and fewer kids’ parents can afford it.

    Anybody ever do this survey with girls’womens’ hockey? They seem to have a little different approach to what is allowed in body contact, and still have a pretty good game.

    By the way, notice the returns for basketball. Basketball can involve a fair amount of body contact, – maybe not ‘hitting,’ but plenty of tough physical stuff.

    Maybe look at the standing given to rugby refs, compared to that given to hockey refs.

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    bill says:

    There are minor leagues in the US that are experimenting with a line on the ice 3 feet from the boards, a no hitting area, this can and will solve the problem the CAHA faces. Without going into a long drawn out diatribe, the issue is the boards, and, how hockey has deteriorated into nothing more then a slug fest for many players. I’ve mentioned on this board before that I’ve coached at the Junior level for 17 years, and, the very first thing I have to teach rookies is to stop running around and trying to hammer guys into the boards. I’m not sure why its taking so long to change this attitude, but, it has to change, its not the way the game was or is supposed to be played. Use the boards to take away a players time and space, have an active stick and support from your team mates, but, unless your child is playing AAA hockey and is in his draft year then hitting a player against the boards should not be allowed. I’ve been an advocate on this subject at CAHA summer meetings for years, and, its never even been considered an area of concern and it should be. Parents of house league or rep players should never have to sit in the stands and watch their child being helped off the ice after being hit hard against plwood and steel posts. Its not hockey, its repulsive and, you should be mad.

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    ray says:

    If I could I would prop up a human skeleton in the corner of every rink in the country and ask parents to take a long hard look or imagine driving that skeleton or worse that of a child full force into immovable boards and ask if they thought it still made sense to them. Doesn’t to me and I played at a high level at St Mikes many years ago when it suddenly seemed silly to as Carl Brewer so famously said (chase a round rubber disk around the ice.’

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    Sean says:

    I’m a baseball guy, not really a hockey guy, but I’ll give you a good analogous situation. In Major League Baseball and almost all levels of Pro (Minors / Non Affiliate / Varsity) , the runner is allowed to take out the catcher. They are allowed to deliberately injure. This is considered one of the “good old boys”, “traditional”, by “the old rules”, in “the spirit of the original game” type of situations.

    However in all levels of amateur, even highly competitive men’s hardball, this is not allowed. I’ve actually never seen a league / association anywhere which doesn’t have this altered contact rule.

    Interestingly, Hockey is far, far less traditional than baseball in the regularity of fundamental rule changes. I think all levels of amateur hockey, maybe at least up to Junior ought to look at non contact.

    Also interestingly, there are a lot of fairly competitive non contact adult hockey leagues. I think its fairly clear that a lot of people into their adult years, don’t think that contact is an essential part of the sport. Why is it so important that kids play contact?

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    Pat Jensen says:

    Not sure why these law-free zones are allowed to exist – in just about any other context this would be aggravated assault (same can be said for “bullying).

    Also, as ours is a society with universal health care, it seems wrong that the more responsible members of society have to pay for reckless behavior. I think hockey leagues should be forced to pay a health care premium/tax.

    Thirdly, it’s sad that people are so basically dumb they cannot self-regulate their behavior. With the world on the brink of perhaps the largest financial contraction in history and/or World War 3, it is totally insane that the State should spend time/energy/money to control games.

    Sad the game of yesteryear – played on ponds and flooded fields where there were no boards to brutalize one’s opponent – and I never recall larger boys slamming smaller boys and dirty tricks – has gone. And there were no adults around at all.

    I suppose like fifteen year girls getting boob jobs and dressing like escorts, boys are trying to emulate the fantasy world of adult television a la Don Cherry and whatnot.

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    Dan says:

    Is it a problem yes.
    But I think the numbers are so outrageous in the hockey dynamic because a) more people generally play the game (you would think boxing would be higher reported if on a per-capita basis)
    b) Hockey, at the competitive level is a contact sport
    c) they are getting better at properly diagnosing concussions.
    A couple of options, as I see would be to play a different sport, or limit contact in hockey to a higher age cohort (I believe it now begins at age 12 in Ontario?) or limit your children to playing in non-rep hockey (house league) which is non-contact (though there are no guarantees that this will eliminate concussions).

    That said, Refs need to enforce the rules of the game but it won’t stop concussions as they can only call infractions after the harm has already been done.
    It begins with coaches properly teaching their players have to give and take a hit, and players having respect for one another out there. My first year of contact hockey, I remember having the majority of the first two practices devoted to taking and giving a proper check. The coach didn’t want us getting hurt out there, or needlessly hurting others.

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    Michael Bluth says:

    Serving as a ref for minor hockey is a thankless job. Continual complaints by over-protective parents who don’t appreciate the work they do and only want to complain, and angry coaches. For what $25 a game? (Sorry, not from T.O. so I don’t know what the going rates are in the GTHL.)

    High turnover because refs are either students who move on to better things relatively quickly or caring citizens who are trying to do good and get beaten down by the constant bombardment from coaches and parents.

    There will be some injuries in hockey. Was the play that caused injury truly egregious? Sometimes injuries do result from minor infractions. Hockey is a violent sport and the potential for injury can never be legislated out of the game.

    If you paid refs $250 a game you would get much higher quality calling of games. Are parents willing to pay the extra money for that?

    This shouldn’t be in the realm of government. Any suggestion to the contrary is stunning. It will be interesting to see the comments section of The Sun if a column on this actually runs.

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    patrick says:

    I wish someone could answer this question, why are you allowed to “finish your check”?
    Why is a player allowed to hit a player who has gotten rid of the puck? If you are not fast enough, or in the right position to knock a player off the puck, why does the player who had the skill and speed to get rid of the puck have to take a hit? How does it serve the game?
    Obviously it doesn’t because the faster skill guys who move the puck quickly are subjected to punishment by less skilled players who can only contact a player a step after the puck is gone.
    I would bet that the majority of injuries occur when opposition players have finished their check. Kaberle was never the same after his concussion. Peca had his knee taken out by Tucker. Crosby into the boards and out 18 months. All were from checks after the puck was gone. All three players taken out by players who couldn’t carry their jock strap.
    Fix this issue and watch injuries drop dramatically.

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    Traciatim says:

    Too bad Cheerleading didn’t make the list, but it probably didn’t since it’s not officially a sport. I bet it’s stats are far worse than any of the other sports.

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