By Jason Malloy - The Guardian
CHARLOTTETOWN - Bodychecking could be bounced from peewee hockey across the country starting this fall.
Hockey Canada delegates are expected to vote Saturday on whether bodychecking should be removed for the 11- and 12-year-old players, following recent decisions by Alberta and Nova Scotia.
“I think it needs to be higher,” said Paul Carson, Hockey Canada’s vice-president of hockey development. “I feel there is an appetite for movement.”
He made presentations to both Alberta and Nova Scotia before they made their decisions and will make a similar 20-minute address Friday morning at Hockey Canada's annual general meeting. Any motion to change the checking age would come forward Saturday.
“Our initial sense is there’s a good chance there will be a proposed motion put forward, whether it passes or not is premature for me to speculate at this point,” said Hockey P.E.I. executive director Rob Newson. “Chances are it will come to the floor, that’s almost a foregone conclusion.”
Atlantic Canada representatives will be meeting today to discuss Nova Scotia’s decision and see how that impacts the other provinces.
“Our board wants to see how the meeting goes (today) and then kind of see how things unfold over the weekend before we react too quickly and make a decision,” Newson said.
Carson said there is an “increased risk of injury” at the peewee age.
“What we do know is that in the bodychecking environment there is a four-time greater risk of sustaining a concussion” he said. “Those are statistics that are out there, that are backed by meaningful and substantiate research.”
He looked at safety, skill development as well as recruitment and retention of players in preparing his presentation.
Newson said it is pleased to be able to host the Hockey Canada meetings, something that comes up once every dozen years.
“It’s a lot of work, a lot of time and effort but just great for us to welcome people and play host,” he said.
While the delegates are in meetings their spouses will have an opportunity to see a bit of the Island, including a walking tour of Charlottetown as well as visiting the Confederation Bridge and the lieutenant-governor’s house.
Hockey Canada annual general meeting
When – Thursday to Sunday.
Where – Delta Prince Edward in Charlottetown
Who – More than 250 representatives from across the country.
On the agenda
– A review of bodychecking in minor hockey in Canada;
– A discussion on governance;
– The election of a chairman and board of directors;
– Site selection for the 2015 RBC Cup;
– A review of the process for United States-based Junior A teams who may, in the future, apply to participate in a Canadian league;
– Final registration figures for 2012-13, including players, officials and coaches;
– A recognition of national champions for 2012-13;
– Reports from Hockey Canada’s councils (female hockey, junior hockey, minor hockey, senior hockey and hockey development).