Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Hard Hitting Topic of Body Checking

Hey gang.

I am fortunate enough to have been invited by Hockey Alberta to serve as moderator for an interesting, and quite possibly emotional, forum discussion taking place tomorrow night as part of their Annual General Meeting.

The topic of discussion… body checking. There has been no shortage of opinions voiced both for and against Hockey Alberta’s, followed by Hockey Canada’s, decision to eliminate body checking from pee wee hockey.

The bottom line is there’s no turning back. The decision has been made and the focus of tomorrow night’s forum will be on “what’s next.” Now that this change is being made, how do we (coaches, managers, officials, players, parents, etc.) move forward while also improving the game of hockey?

Tomorrow (Friday) night’s Body Checking Forum takes place in the Tuscany Ballroom at the Sheraton in Red Deer from 6 – 8pm. This event is open to the public. If you want to learn more or wish to voice your comments, questions, or concerns by all means come on out. The forum will feature the following panelists…

Paul Carson – Vice President of Hockey Development, Hockey Canada
Rob Litwinski – Executive Director, Hockey Alberta
Bill Peters – Assistant Coach, Detroit Red Wings
Barry Medori – High Performance Coach Mentor, Hockey Alberta

As you can see by looking at this group of panelists, the forum will cover a wide range of topics as they pertain to the elimination of body checking from pee wee hockey. How do we prepare pee wee players for the upcoming season? What impact will the change have on skill development? How will the NHL look in 8-12 years when today’s pee wee players enter the league?

If you have any questions about the forum, feel free to call me (403-347-2673) e-mail ( or tweet (@Troy_Gillard) and I’ll be glad to chat. I am very much looking forward to being part of this forum and ensuing discussion.


Speaking of AGM’s the Western Hockey League just wrapped up with theirs in Vancouver.

In a media release sent out last night, the WHL says it is very pleased with the progress that has been made in regards to limiting concussions (through their Concussion Management Safety Program).

The league says numbers from the 2012-13 season show that concussions were down over 20% overall to the 2011-12 season. League officials say the reduced is largely a result of the WHL’s Seven Point Plan, a comprehensive education and prevention program designed to reduce contact to the head and concussions, introduced prior to the 2011-12 season.

“We are very encouraged by the research indicating concussions are down significantly compared to previous seasons,” WHL Commissioner Ron Robison commented. “We believe the Seven Point Plan has been very effective in addressing player safety overall and reducing the number of concussions on a league wide basis.”

Other matters adopted by the WHL Board of Governors in preparation for the 2013-14 season included…

- The use of video replay in the offensive zone to review goal situations when a player may have scored as a result of a hand pass or high stick.

- A new computer assisted scheduling system. This year, the WHL will release its pre-season schedule for the 2013-14 season on Tuesday, June 25, while the regular season schedule will be released the following day on Wednesday, June 26.

- Other agenda items at the WHL Annual Meeting included a review of the WHL officiating program; new goaltending development initiatives; and the hosting of the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup.



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