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Changing Hockey Culture: Are We Reaching A Tipping Point?

Playing the game of ice hockey within the rules would seem like a simple concept.  Yet all efforts to accomplish this objective have thus far proven elusive, from the NHL all the way down to the youngest levels.  In a previous post I reported that Minnesota Hockey has retained the much harsher penalties for two of the three most dangerous plays in the game. In fact, Minnesota has the toughest rules in youth and high school hockey in the country. The question is, will this be enough to change the culture of the sport?

Playing the game of hockey within the rules would seems like a simple concept. Yet all efforts to enforce the rules have thus far proven elusive.  Will making the rules for dangerous play tougher be enough to change the culture? This coming season may be the tipping point.

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.

NFHS Clarifies Rules On Checks From Behind in High School Hockey

In an effort to promote safer play and minimize the risk of head, neck and spine injuries, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) has clarified the rules on checking from behind in high school hockey.  The changes seek to stem the rising tide of violence in high school hockey, and come in the wake of several highly publicized catastrophic injuries to players after illegal checks from behind, but is better enforcement the simpler, and better, answer?
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