May 30, 2011
Hockey Canada bans head shots
By Scott Fisher, QMI Agency
It’s like dealing with a ticking time bomb.
You can either wait for it to go off and deal with the carnage, or take preventative measures to minimize the damage.
Hockey Canada has decided to go with the safer approach, banning all head hits.
Newly elected Hockey Canada board chairman Michael Bruni said the organization is intent on leading the way in the fight against concussions.
“It’s long overdue,” Bruni, a Calgarian, said of the zero tolerance stance Hockey Canada has taken against head shots.
“We had no choice but to show some leadership. This has been a lingering issue in the sport for a long time.”
Hockey Canada has implemented mandatory penalties for all hits — both accidental and intentional — at all levels of minor, junior (levels A, B, C and D), senior and female competition.
The new rules are not in effect in Canada’s three major junior circuits as the WHL, OHL and QMJHL are self-governing.
“We have to make this safe for the young kids,” Bruni said.
Bruni said the new penalties — ranging from a minor or double-minor up to a major and game misconduct — will act as deterrents.
But the true focus will be to instil a level of respect in young players.
“We have to look at the coaches and make sure they are coaching the game in a fashion so that it’s not intimidating.
“Everyone, including the parents, need to know this conduct is inexcusable.”
Bruni said action had to be taken for two reasons.
“First, people won’t participate.
“And second, something significant might happen. And once you get politicians involved, extreme measures will take place.”
While no one is against the idea of abolishing head shots, Bruni said he expects to hear some dissention.
“There are some people who are fundamentally adverse to rules,” he said.
“There may be some who will say that by doing this, we’ll be eliminating more than just head shots, and that it will take some of the aggressiveness away from the game.
“But I would hope they would be in the minority.”
With the game’s biggest star, Sidney Crosby, still recovering from a New Year’s Day concussion, head shots have received plenty of attention in the past five months.
“We hope these rules act as a catalyst to change attitudes,” Bruni said.
“We’re not just at a tipping point. We’re at a crisis point.”