By Ken Reed

Gradually. Progress.

Hockey is slowly moving out of the stone ages when it comes to unnecessary violence that can lead to brain trauma.

After a long debate, Hockey Canada’s board of directors voted to eliminate bodychecking at the peewee level (11 and 12-year-old boys).

It’s a smart move — and a good start. A Hockey Alberta study found that eliminating the body check at the peewee level in that province alone would prevent 400 concussions and more than 1000 injuries per year.

Hockey Canada needed to act. For this hockey season, 8,000 fewer kids signed up across Canada for youth hockey. The concussion risk is a key factor in the dropping participation rate.

Banning bodychecking at the peewee level is the first step. Many more will eventually come. Former NHL player Jim Peplinski is calling for a ban on bodychecking until at least age 16 to cut down on the number of concussions in youth hockey.

“The first priority in minor hockey is to protect the safety of the children who play,” wrote Canadian hockey writer Jack Todd. “The kids aren’t going to protect themselves because at that age, they all think they’re immortal.”

Exactly, Mr. Todd. Exactly.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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