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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.

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.

Stiffening Penalties For Violent Hits By Minnesota Hockey League Important Step In Improving Player Safety


This past weekend, the MInnesota State High School League took an unprecedented step of changing the rules mid-season, by stiffening the penalties on three of the most violent and dangerous infractions in hockey: checking from behind, boarding and contact to the head will now result in an automatic five-minute "major" against the offending player resulting in ejection and forcing his team to play short-handed for five minutes, regardless of how many times it is scored upon during the ensuing power play. 

By stiffening the rules against dangerous play in ice hockey and giving referees less discretion in calling penalties, the Minnesota State High School League has taken an important first step to reduce the number of catastrophic injuries in the sport.

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