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Deflections: Feeling shame - for how long?


A lovely thing about the off season, apart from it being a lot warmer, is that I can meander onto peripheral topics. This is also the beauty of a blog. No pretence about journalistic objectivity here. One reads a blog, like a newspaper column, to get an opinion, disagreeable or otherwise. Every now and then I read someone’s published comments and feel a guttural urge to scream nasty words. Then I realize this was exactly the idea. 

With that in mind, how long should a child feel shame? (to borrow a line from “Slapshot”)

A couple of months ago, a minor hockey association board member told me there was a committee looking into reducing penalty minute times for midget house league (recreational) hockey. I wanted to hug the guy. Finally! Common sense gains the upper hand, er, glove!

In our area, these midget kids play 32 minute games, 10-10-12 minute periods stopped time, and games need to be completed within a 50-minute ice block. So they’re investigating the reduction of minors to perhaps one minute or 90 seconds with similar reductions for majors and misconducts. To do so, however, requires an official pilot program and permission from Hockey Canada. One can toughen Hockey Canada rules but cannot lighten them without expressed permission, such as with a pilot project.

But why stop with midget hockey, I wondered? Most kids, even at competitive levels, play less than 60 minutes stopped time. Most are around 45 to 50 minutes. In novice and atom, ages seven to 10, games are as long as those midgets. That doesn’t make a lot of sense either, but it isn’t the point.

Where does it make sense that a child playing as little as 55% of a pro game have the same penalty minute lengths as the pros? In fact, why isn’t there a separate set of rules for the young kids? 

Example: The eight-year-old breaks his stick. He carries the broken shaft to the bench and hands it to the trainer. (Why? Because Dad said he can get a refund from the store, so, son, bring it back to me.) He could be given a minor for playing with a broken stick. Or he could be given a misconduct (Rule 9.8d) for “tossing” the stick out of the playing area. Technically, yes, he sort of did both. Are such draconian penalties necessary? Wouldn’t it have been sufficient to whistle down the play and just have the faceoff in the offending kid’s zone? Message sent. Why should the kid AND the team suffer?

Example: Three stick infractions leads to a game ejection. So little Billy gets three harmless hooking penalties because he’s a lousy skater and can’t catch anyone. Off he goes. What was gained from this?

It’s time for Hockey Canada to stride forward and fix it. Anyone want to be the champion of the cause?

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