Jason Malloy - TC Media
Body checking has been removed from peewee hockey across Canada.
Delegates to Hockey Canada's annual general meeting in Charlottetown on Saturday voted overwhelmingly in favour of removing body checking for 11- and 12-year-old players.
While the vote was not recorded it appeared to be 42-2 in favour of the change. Saskatchewan voted against the motion and there were two votes unaccounted for.
“The change, in our opinion, creates a safer environment for kids and will help with development,” said Hockey P.E.I. executive director Rob Newson.
He added it was a big decision, but knows there will be those opposed to the change, which starts in the 2013-14 season.
“Change is not easy. People don’t like change and there will be people who don’t agree with us,” he said.
But after reviewing the research, which showed there is three times greater risk of injury and four times the risk of concussions in body checking environments at the peewee level, Hockey P.E.I. made its decision to support the motion.
“Priority one to us, is safety and development of young hockey players,” Newson said. “If we can make the game safer for our kids, it’s a big step for everyone.”
The issue has been discussing for decades, but really attracted a lot of interest earlier this year when Alberta and Nova Scotia both made the change.
A province, or branch, can strengthen a national policy, but not weaken one.
Hockey Nova Scotia executive director Darren Cossar said he was unsure how the vote was going to go Saturday afternoon.
“It’s exciting and I think it’s great for our game going forward,” he said. “It really was like an elation of a vciotry or a championship.”
Before lunch the former NHL coach Jacques Demers said he supported increasing the body checking level to bantam.
"I'm all for it," the former Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings coach said. "Why not protect our young kids?"
He admitted to changing his own view from his coaching days. He said the evidence of concussions in the sport helped in his decision.
"We need a change, especially at the peewee level," Demers said. "You could have a six-foot-four, six-foot-three, and we see that in tournaments, and you could have another peewee that's five-foot-five and he has no chance to compete."