What's buzzing:

Buzzing The Net

2013 Memorial Cup: Halifax Mooseheads, including Nathan MacKinnon, see logic of Hockey Canada peewee bodychecking ban

Neate Sager
Buzzing The Net

View photo


Mooseheads co-captain Stefan Fournier (The Canadian Press)

SASKATOON, Sask. — To find rational, reasonable takes on Hockey Canada banning body checking at the peewee level, ask people involved in high-level hockey instead of scouring Twitter.

Halifax Mooseheads co-captain Stefan Fournier, star centre Nathan MacKinnon and coach Dominique Ducharme each said they were onside with the recommendations that were passed on Saturday. It's not just an across-the-board ban, but recommendations also include "progressive implementation of checking skills at the atom and peewee level and to better prepare players for body checking at the bantam and midget level."

Alberta and Nova Scotia's provincial associations removed bodychecking in peewee (ages 11 and 12) recently. Quebec, where the 21-year-old Fournier played his minor hockey, has not allowed it at that age group since the 1980s.

"There was in summer hockey, which I found was completely acceptable," Fournier said on Saturday. "I think personally for me it keeps people's heads up, it gives awareness. When you're a peewee hockey player the game's not as fast and you learn to keep your head up. That does limit head injuries.

"For me, there's one regard where it makes people aware," the right wing added. "But at the other token, if people are saying that too many kids at the peewee level are getting hurt, they [Hockey Canada] have to go by their own judgement."

The 17-year-old MacKinnon, who played up in the bantam age group when he was peewee-aged, said he believed

"I think they know what they're doing," the Cole Harbour, N.S., native said. "Hockey Canada is a respected organization and they put a lot of thought into it."

As emotionally fraught as the issue is, minor hockey, like any consumer good, needs to be tweaked in order to maintain sales. A manufacturer of a children's toy that was found to pose health hazards would adjust accordingly. Hockey Canada's move is not motivated by the aim to reduce brain injuries, but to improve the sport's relatively poor retention rate once boys reach puberty. Putting off checking, while overhauling how giving and taking contact is learned and taught, might keep the smaller boy who doesn't grow until his mid-teens in the game.

"They've studied the cases and a lot of that [injuries] comes from the difference in size between kids at that age," said Ducharme, who was named Canadian Hockey League coach of the year on Saturday. "The more the players at a younger age can work on their skills without worrying about getting body checking and about the weight and height difference, I think maybe in the long run, it might just help players develop with even better skills."

Ducharme's counterpart in Sunday's Memorial Cup final, Portland Winterhawks skipper Travis Green, deferred to the empirical evidence.

"I don't know if it's fair for me to comment, to be honest," said Green, who had a 970-game NHL career. "I know they've done a lot a research on it and whatever they have decided is for the best in the game, in their minds. I'm sure they've researched through and through. I would trust the people who are making the decisions."

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to btnblog@yahoo.ca.

View Comments (0)
  • NFL-National Football League roundup

    NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said presentations this week by two stadium groups affiliated with NFL teams were "very exciting" and offered a "great deal of potential to be successful". St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is vying against a joint … More »

    Reuters - 7 minutes ago
  • Wall Finds Gortat

    Wall Finds Gortat

    John Wall dishes the sweet pass to Marcin Gortat for the monster dunk. … More »

    NBA.com - 11 minutes ago
  • NHL-National Hockey League roundup

    Peter Chiarelli, fired by the Boston Bruins last week, was named president of hockey operations and general manager of the Edmonton Oilers on Friday. Chiarelli will report to chief executive officer Bob Nicholson and be responsible for all aspects … More »

    Reuters - 31 minutes ago
  • Ryan flicks a shots that trickles by Price

    Ryan flicks a shots that trickles by Price

    Ottawa Senators forward Bobby Ryan lets go of a shot from the top of the left circle that trickles behind Canadiens goalie Carey Price to open the scoring. … More »

    NHL Highlights - 36 minutes ago
  • Baseball-Major League Baseball roundup

    The Los Angeles Angels reportedly were close Friday to a deal that would send troubled outfielder Josh Hamilton back to the Texas Rangers. MLB.com reported that the Angels were in serious trade talks with the Rangers about a potential deal that … More »

    Reuters - 40 minutes ago