06
Feb
10

Hockey just sucks and they need to start making some real changes soon

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1 Response to “Hockey just sucks and they need to start making some real changes soon”


  1. February 6, 2010 at 3:51 PM

    BARRIE – It was sickening to see the replay.

    The Barrie Colts’ Matt Kennedy lay crumpled on the ice after a high hit from the Windsor Spitfires’ Zack Kassian in a game in late January.

    A few days later, Patrice Cormier, who captained the Team Canada Junior team to a silver medal recently, delivered a vicious elbow to the head of an unsuspecting opponent in a Quebec junior league game. Video footage showed Cormier’s victim, Mikael Tam, convulsing on the ice before being wheeled off the ice on a stretcher.

    Kassian was suspended by the OHL for 20 games, Cormier for the rest of the season and playoffs, a penalty his team is appealing.

    What’s particularly galling is these two players are not fourth line enforcers on their respective teams. Both are very talented – Kassian and Cormier are NHL first round picks.

    The good news is Kennedy is back playing for the Colts after a three-week recovery. Tam’s return date is uncertain.

    More and more parents are beginning to wonder what assurances do they have if their son, or daughter, suffers a serious injury because of the undisciplined play by a member of an opposing team?

    Even federal politicians are entering the fray.

    On Tuesday, the NDP called for a royal commission into violence in sports.

    Sudbury MP sports critic Glenn Thibeault said, “It’s high time this situation was taken seriously. The violence has to stop for our kid’s sake.”

    Thibeault said lacing up a pair of skates doesn’t give anyone the right to injure.

    His colleague, Deputy NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair wants to know, “why so few charges are laid following such acts at sporting events. We are heading for a situation where somebody is going to be killed.”

    The pair say only a royal commission can provide the non-partisan forum to investigate sport violence.

    Locally, the Barrie Minor Hockey Association (BMHA) has adopted a strict code of discipline and ethics designed to curb overly aggressive and dangerous on-ice behaviour.

    The association has a very comprehensive policy statement in place called “For the Good of the Game.”

    The program was initiated eight years ago after the league received numerous comments and complaints from members about deteriorating standards on the ice, and in the stands about objectionable spectators.

    BMHA president Murray Shanks says his league adopted policies and recommendations from Hockey Canada and other organizations in drafting their manual such as, “An individual is considered to be displaying unacceptable behaviour if they are verbally or physically harassing and/or abusing a game participant (player, coach or official) the BMHA code states.

    The 2,000-player league has enacted several bylaws to administer the program.

    At the time, the BMHA saw “a need to address the fundamental value of fun, respect and development of the game. The BMHA sees the game as having arrived at a critical point, requiring it to focus on and re-emphasize values, fun respect and positive development. It’s apparent in the past several years that participating in hockey has become less and less enjoyable. The clear majority of people have emphasized the need to play with more respect and for fun.”

    As a result, the league has a formal protocol for suspensions and hearings when rules are flagrantly broken. A development committee was formed to provide leadership and custom-designed programs, specialty clinics and monitoring to meet the needs of individual players, coaches and teams.

    Shanks says the measures have been very successful. “Any member of the BMHA agrees to the code. In my seven years, we’ve only had a handful of hearings. We’ve only had one this season.”

    The BMHA is in it for the long haul.

    The league has also adopted a “Stop Sign” program in an effort to eliminate checking from behind.

    “We have very firm policies on checking from behind, or checks to the head,” Shanks says. “If you get a major penalty for a head check, it’s an automatic game misconduct, plus a three-game suspension. In the past couple of years, our referees have checking from behind and head checks under control.”

    Shanks is displeased the OHL and NHL aren’t more forceful on these issues.

    “Hits like the one Mike Richards (Philadelphia Flyers) put on David Booth (Florida Panthers) would have resulted in a season-long suspension in our league. It’s unfortunate when you see these hits, but in minor hockey, we don’t see it. The BMHA is full contact after peewee and we enforce the rules.”

    Dan Garneau, general manager of the Innisfil Lakers of the Greater Metro Jr. A League GMJL) says, “We’ve been pretty fortunate as far as the Lakers are concerned. We haven’t had those types of issues. I think being a tuition-based league our players are a little but more under control. One slip up or bad judgment call and you’re thrown a lot of money away to sit up in the stands.”

    Proper on-ice conduct is part of the league’s policy, Garneau says.

    “We want our players to respect their opponents,” he says. “We’ve only had five fights in 39 games. Our league isn’t a rough league – we play by NCAA rules.”

    Players who do commit a serious infraction pay a penalty much more than a few minutes in the sin bin.

    “Every disqualification a player gets adds up and they accumulate all season,” Garneau says. “If one player gets into five fights, that’s 15 games suspension overall, so players are more careful with rough play and fighting in general. We haven’t had any disqualifications with the Lakers this season.”

    Garneau concurs with those who say hockey is a physical sport but guidelines are needed, and to be enforced.

    “It’s a contact game, but you need respect for your opponents.”

    He adds he believes outside influences are mostly responsible for the increasing instances of violent behaviour in hockey games.

    “I think YouTube is a good reason for a lot of this,” he says. “It publicizes gang and street fights. Kids are going around picking fights and the posting them on the Internet.

    The game has changed. There’s no room for just goons anymore. You have to be able to play.”

    – with files from Torstar news service


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