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Eliminating Dangerous Hits Focus Of New High School Ice Hockey Rules

The National Federation of State High School Association has approved changes strengthening the language of rules on dangerous hits and to give game officials discretion to penalize a player who illegally hits another player from behind with a game misconduct if the hit is deemed flagrant.

Minnesota Hockey Retains More Severe Penalties, Aims for Better Enforcement

Minnesota Hockey, the governing body for 40,000 youth hockey players in the state, has voted to continue with the pilot program begun last Janaury that made checking from behind and boarding 5 minute major and 10 minute misconduct penalties.  The program was instituted after high school player Jack Jablonski suffered a spinal cord injury from an unpenalized check from behind. The USA Hockey rule book allows for escalating levels of penaly time depending on the incident. That discretion no longer exists in Minnesota in youth or high school hockey. 

Minnesota Hockey, the governing body for 40,000 youth hockey players in the state, has voted to continue rule changes enacted last January which stiffened the penalties for checking from behind and boarding and hope for better enforcement.

Better Enforcement, Not Rule Changes Key To Reducing Dangerous Play in Hockey


Minnesota Hockey and the Minnesota State High school league increased the penalties for dangerous plays following the tragic life changing accident Jack Jablonski, a 16-year-old Benilde St. Margarets player, suffered in January of 2012. The question at hand now is should we continue with the stiffer penalties, modify them, add to them or return to the previous rule book? So far the consensus is to keep them and add to them.

It seems so simple, but as we learn in life nothing is simple. Perhaps we should look at the causes that are creating the current environment and then asertain if the  penalties are warranted, are sufficient or need changing.  

We won't make ice hockey safer for players by increasing penalties for dangerous play. We need to address the core issue: the violent culture of the sport.

The Future of Ice Hockey: What Kind of Game Do We Want?

What kind of game do we want ice hockey to be? Do we want a very physical game with lots of hitting from behind and head contact or do we want the game we once had, a game of skill and respect along with legal physical play?

The game of ice hockey has not always been played as it is now. Checking was not permitted by attacking players in the offensive zone until the mid 1970’s. The center red line created another point that slowed the game down a bit and there was no tag-up offsides, so defensemen actually had to learn some skills to survive in neutral ice until their linemates got back onside.

What is the future of youth ice hockey? Will it continue to be a game of illegal hits to the hitting, interfering, intimidation, and trash-talking opponents, or one rewarding speed, skill, and physical play within the rules?  Only time will tell.

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