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Minnesota Hockey president's letter

By Star Tribune, 01/23/12, 9:40PM CST


Minnesota Hockey Members,

Minnesota Hockey Members,

In light of recent injuries in high school hockey and with continuing efforts to reduce the risks involved in hockey, the Minnesota Hockey Board of Directors adopted the following rule changes.  Effective Wednesday, January 25, 2012, the minimum penalty for boarding and checking from behind infractions will be increased.  The first level of penalty for Boarding, Rule 603, will become a major and a Checking from Behind, Rule 608, will become a major plus a misconduct.  These changes apply to all Minnesota Hockey sanctioned league, tournament and exhibition (scrimmage) games and will be in effect until the end of the 2011-12 season (July 31, 2012).  The effectiveness of these changes will be evaluated going forward.

These rule changes are being adopted on a pilot basis and all rules and definitions in the USA Hockey  2011-13 Official Rules of Ice Hockey book remain in effect.  Only the first levels of penalties for the two infractions stated above are increased.  Officials need to make these calls and must have the support of the coaches and parents if increasing the consequences for boarding and checking from behind is to have a positive effect.

These revised rules are only part of what is needed to make hockey as safe as possible.  A culture change is required that will no longer encourage dangerous and intimidation play.  Parents, coaches, officials, players and administrators, need to work together, to make that change.  Education, skill development and respect (Fair Play) are key in making the culture change and Minnesota Hockey is committed to continuing to provide leadership in these areas.

During this pilot, HEP Fair Point calculations are not changing. When tabulating total Fair Play penalty minutes, the “equivalency” penalty minute for the first level boarding and checking from behind remain the same;  Boarding, 2 minute minor, checking from behind, 2 minute minor and 10 minute misconduct.

The following announcement provides additional background..  

Hockey is a great game and wouldn’t be possible without all of the efforts of coaches, officials, administrator and parents.  For all your work we say thank you and ask for your cooperation in implementing these changes.

Thank you,

Dave Margenau
President, Minnesota Hockey

Minnesota Hockey Announces Rule Changes
Penalty for Boarding and Checking-From-Behind Increases
(ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA – January 23, 2012) -- The Minnesota Hockey Board of Directors voted unanimously at its winter board meeting to strengthen the severity of the penalty issued to players who are cited for boarding and checking-from-behind infractions.  These rule changes are being adopted on a pilot basis and will be reevaluated at the conclusion of the 2012 Minnesota Hockey season. Minnesota Hockey will continue to work with the hockey community to evaluate the effectiveness of these changes.

“Player safety is and always will be the highest priority of Minnesota Hockey,” said Dave Margenau, President of Minnesota Hockey.  “However, as important as the rule change is, it is equally vital that the culture of hockey change to eliminate the intimidation and illegal hits.  Officials must call all illegal play and their calls must be supported by coaches, parents and players.”

Effective Wednesday, January 25, 2012, the penalty for boarding and checking-from-behind will be a five (5) minute major penalty. This will cover all Minnesota Hockey sanctioned games played until July 31, 2012; after this time, the changes will be reviewed by the Minnesota Hockey Board of Directors.

Minnesota Hockey will work with its local community associations, coaches, and referees to ensure other existing rules continue to be enforced and that the rule changes will be enforced with zero tolerance. Additionally, Minnesota Hockey will continue to provide ongoing education regarding proper hockey techniques, rules and regulations.

“Referees for the youth games take their role of ensuring safe and fair play seriously,” said Eric Olson, Minnesota Hockey Referee in Chief. “These rule changes will be called with zero tolerance.”
As the governing body of youth and amateur hockey in the state, Minnesota Hockey has been a national leader in creating safety initiatives for youth hockey.  In 2004 Minnesota Hockey, in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center, introduced the Hockey Education Program (HEP).  The objective of HEP is to provide a safe and positive hockey experience by teaching hockey skills, educating parents and coaches and creating accountability through Fair Play.  Fair Play is a program that awards teams who play within the rules and respect their opponents with a league standings Fair Play point for each game, win or lose.

Minnesota Hockey coaches have and will continue to teach skills and techniques to ensure as safe of a playing environment as possible. Through the mandatory USA Hockey Coaching Education Program, clinics and materials provided by Minnesota Hockey, coaches are provided the training to accomplish the goal of player development.  Included in the training is a progressive approach to teaching body contact and checking. More information about these programs is available at www.usahockey.com. and www.minnesotahockey.org

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