It’s been some time since my last post on the topic of the proposed rule to delay body checking until the Bantam level. As we are a month away from USA Hockey’s Annual Congress, at which the rule will be voted on, it is important to be armed with as much knowledge on this topic as possible.
If you’ve read my previous posts, found here and here, you’ll know that I am behind the proposed change 100%. I wasn’t always there though, and I think for some people it’s a hard thing to get behind. However, when a proposal like this is made, it’s incredibly important to get as much information as possible before forming an opinion.
After the jump, I’ve got a few more thoughts on the proposed rule change and feature a few new resources to better educate yourself on this topic.
USA Hockey Magazine has put together a series of podcasts regarding this very topic. During the series, the magazine’s editor, Harry Thompson, interviews USA Hockey insiders with intimate knowledge of the proposed plan. Each podcast covers a different aspect of the proposed rule change and answers pretty much all of the pertinent questions.
From talking to hockey insiders, hockey parents, coaches and players, along with comments on this blog, I’ve heard and read tons of questions, concerns and complaints. Almost all of those get addressed in these podcasts.
While the magazine is an arm of USA Hockey, Thompson has asked the questions we’ve all been asking ourselves since this proposed change became public. As far as I’m concerned, these podcasts may be the best informational tool USA Hockey has made available to date.
I strongly recommend to everyone who has any opinion on this proposed rule change to listen to these podcasts. Heck, take notes even.
There are three episodes of the podcast that have yet to be released, but what I’ve gathered from the nine I listened to has only strengthened my belief that this proposed rule change is a step forward for USA Hockey.
Thompson’s two interviews with Kevin McLaughlin, USA Hockey’s senior director of hockey development, are particularly informative. In the first, McLaughlin gives a comprehensive background of how this proposal came about and why it is being promoted. The second allows McLaughlin to dispel the “myths” regarding the rule and directly answers questions that have been asked repeatedly by opponents of this rule change.
Another incredibly informative and enthralling episode of the podcast is Thompson’s chat with Dr. Michael Stuart, USA Hockey’s chief medical officer. Stuart talks about the safety issues of this rule and provides insight from his background as both a doctor and a hockey parent (his son, Mark, plays for the Atlanta Thrashers and is currently Team USA’s captain at the IIHF World Men’s Championship).
I also particularly enjoyed Thompson’s segment with Bob Mancini, an American Development Model regional manager who has been involved in hockey at just about every level from mite to the NHL. Mancini has been one of the driving forces behind this rule change proposal and offers great insight into why he feels it is necessary.
Many questions have been asked about how officials will handle the rule change. Matt Leaf, USA Hockey’s director of officiating education, brings up the great points that USA Hockey officials deal with rule changes every two years and that the vast majority of amateur hockey is no-check already. In a second podcast, Leaf covers the difference between body contact and body checking from a rules perspective.
Lastly, I found director of coaching education Mark Tabrum’s interview with Thompson to be really informative and it brought some new information to light. Tabrum revealed that USA Hockey-certified coaches will have to complete age-specific modules in addition to attending certification clinics. This is an important development in how coaches will be taught to develop players at the younger levels with the new rules.
Also, be sure to check out the podcasts featuring Roger Grillo (skill development aspects of the rule change), Ken Rausch (teaching checking and body contact technique), which both offer some great insight from a coaching perspective, and the three upcoming podcasts which should all be released very soon.
Change is hard. Based on what I’ve read from many of the folks that commented on my last posts on this topic, it’s going to be really hard for some people. The fact of the matter is, this is a chance for USA Hockey to do something that could revolutionize the way we are developing our young players.
Having spent a year in the national office and having spoken to many of the subjects of these podcasts in the past, I can tell you that these people genuinely want to make the game better. Delaying body checking to Bantam will help our players make better decisions with the puck, create more opportunity for skill development, protect our younger players, keep more kids in the game longer, and if all goes as planned, improve the overall depth of talent in the United States.
I welcome all comments on this topic, however, I ask that you first listen to the podcasts before weighing in, so as to fully inform yourself. The podcasts cover the topic far more comprehensively and eloquently than I ever could, so be sure to check them out before hitting the comments section.
Also, I’m curious to know, has your opinion on this topic changed, one way or another, since our first post on this topic? If so, why? Feel free to leave your answers in the comments.
As this is a very heated topic, please try to keep your comments respectful of others. Thanks!
I’d expect to have at least one more post up before the June vote should any new developments, studies, or arguments arise. We’ll also have a complete reaction to the outcome of the vote after it is made public. This is a hot-button issue in youth hockey, but it could have an enormous long-term effect on the game as a whole. It should be interesting to follow.