I know nothing about hockey.
It took me 10+ hockey seasons to figure out the difference between offside and icing, yet only one to recognize that pouring Baileys into coffee at 6am is elbowing, and makes for a very long day.
But I do know checking.
I don’t care what anyone says – checking begins long before Peewee. I first experienced forechecking in Novice, when my post-dated cheque for November 1st bounced – four months after I wrote it. At the time, I remember thinking that surely the novelty of waking up at 5 am and throwing on cold, soggy gear would wear off – and that I’d be getting a refund long before November 1st.
Hip checks increase in Atom, when you discover your jeans no longer fit, because you’ve been wearing a puffy coat over sweats, scarfing down rink fries since tryouts. By the time playoffs roll around, you’re writing cheques so fast; you’re taking Tupperware to hospitality suites. There’s no money for groceries, let alone bigger pants.
In Major Midget, the person holding the chequebook bends over and coughs up $5000 just prior to being flattened by something that smells like a dead muskrat. That’s called chequing from behind.
With stagnating enrollment in Canada’s national game, should we be blowing the whistle at homonyms – or praising Christine Sinclair for making soccer look so damn exciting?
The argument over where and when to introduce bodychecking in minor hockey is heated and ongoing, across Canada. The powers that be at Hockey Nova Scotia are scratching their concussed heads over the issue right now, with a decision coming to vote at their forthcoming AGM, May 10 to 12th. I expect nothing less than an illogical decision.
In Québec, Peewees (11 and 12 year olds) must wait two additional years before they can mise en échec. (But they can join a beer league a year earlier.) By 13 and 14, boys are so pent up with hormones and pimply aggression, Bantam A looks like a drunken cage fight.
And despite reduced fees, the Quinte West Minor Hockey Association claimed the OHF’s ruling to remove bodychecking from House League resulted in many of their older players quitting the game. That just sucks on so many levels.
Neurosurgeon warnings aside, most kids enjoy checking – particularly the boys with beards and a devoted following of puck bunnies in Atom. I polled the recreational to Junior players who foul the air in my TV room, and consensus was, “the earlier the better”. One cheeky defenseman was brazen enough to suggest, “Parents should stay out if it.” I think he meant “moms” but I was doling out warm chocolate chip cookies at the time.
And I know nothing about hockey, but is it not a contact sport? Like safe sex, why not teach kids how to give and take a hit properly, respectfully, and gradually. Concussions and spinal cord injuries are serious business, but abstinence hasn’t proven to be a foolproof method of accident prevention thus far. My son chose to be a goalie – and I hate it – but that doesn’t give me the right to demand softer pucks and free vodka.
NHL Scout, Darrell Young runs a local checking school. “People forget, checking is a skill, like skating. Organizations need to do a better job of teaching it,” says Young, who’s built like a pop machine. “Other countries are becoming more physical, and here in Canada – we’re moving the other way. That’s crazy.”
I don’t know about you, but if I had a child morphing from Atom to Peewee, I’d sure as shit be looking for a qualified professional to teach my kid how to take a hard knock – preferably by someone who has seen the inside of a penalty box a time or two. I'd also stick a copy of Slapshot into the minivan DVD player. No sense in your child being the only kid in the dressing room who hasn't heard the word 'pussy' outside of the pet store.
So forgive me if I sound more like Jeremy fucking Roenick than a Mom, but if you really don’t want your kid to be smucked into the boards, I suggest signing them up for tennis. Or curling. Last time I looked, Colleen Jones still had all her teeth.
The Safety Towards Other Players (STOP) campaign was developed to thwart checking from behind, intentional or otherwise. Moms were instructed to sew red octagonal patches on to the back of jerseys. Assuming your child can read, the word “STOP” is intended to prevent injury and promote sportsmanship.
Well I am here to tell you it doesn’t work.
I sewed my child’s STOP patch on, while drinking a $20 bottle of wine by the fire. The next game, he couldn’t get his head in his jersey because I’d inadvertently stitched the two sides together.
That’s called a delay of game.
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