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Why Tougher Rules for Dangerous Hits in High School Hockey Will Not Work

 

As I watch the Stanley Cup playoffs I am reminded each spring about the ever-changing rules in hockey: One set for the regular season, and one set for playoffs. Or should I say one rule book and two or more interpretations of the enforcement of the rules in the book. Clearly there is much more leeway from the rule book during the playoffs. Players tripped on breakaways do not draw a penalty. Obvious rule violations are ignored. But lets be clear about the NHL: the league is an entertainment business that happens to play hockey. Fans like the brutality and violence. It sells tickets so it is allowed to happen. 

Tougher rules against checking from behind and blind-side hits in hockey won't make the sport safer. The problem is a lack of training, certification, education and compensation for on-ice officials, argues one longtime Minnesota hockey official and coach.

Concussions in Hockey: A Dark Cloud Hanging Over the Sport With A Simple Solution: Play By The Rules

January 19th  was a great day for ice hockey in North America with the return of the NHL, and especially in my state, which celebrated our annual "Hockey Day in Minnesota." Today, two high school teams played outdoors on Lake Pokegema in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers mens' hockey team played North Dakota, and then the Minnesota Wild played their season opener - all on TV.  Across the state, youth and high school teams were also playing the game they love. But, while it was a day to celebrate hockey, it is also a reminder of the dark cloud that hangs over the game: concussions.

The end of the NHL lockout and the annual Hockey Day in Minnesota should have been cause for celebration, but for a longtime Minnesota high school hockey coach and official the hockey-fest was also a reminder that concussions continue to be a dark cloud hanging over the sport.

Extending Body Checking Ban To Age 14 and Stricter Rules Enforcement: The Wrong Approach?

Just a couple years ago USA Hockey banned body checking at the Pee Wee (12 and under) level, based in part on evidence that the risks of concussion and other serious injury resulting from body checking was simply unacceptable.  The primary reason USA Hockey made the change, however, was to promote skill development at an age where kids are still developing, and because that development was being hindered by aggressive play intended to intimidate opponents and a winning-at-all-costs mentality.  In making the rule change, USA Hockey assumed that all kids play because they want to develop their skills.  I think that the majority simply want to play.

Will extending the ban on body checking in hockey to age 14 and better rules enforcement make the game safer? Perhaps we need to take a different approach, argues a longtime youth hockey official.

Jabs #13: Making Youth Hockey Safer In Wake of Jablonski Tragedy

While Jablonski's injury was, of course, his parent's worst nightmare, and will change his life forever, such injuries are fortunately quite rare in ice hockey but the publicity, in this instance, has prompted calls for the leaders of youth and high school hockey in Minnesota to demand stricter rule enforcement, better coaching, and more severe penalties for dangerous and illegal "hits" that lead to hockey being a sport with one of the highest rates of concussion.

Longtime Minnesota ice hockey coach Hal Tearse talks about how the catastrophic injury suffered by high school hockey player Jack "Jabs" Jablonski and suggests ways to make the sport safer.

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