This won't be anything knew to the Canadian members of PPP, but for the American followers yesterday marked a big change in US youth hockey. That's because the USA Hockey Board of Directors overwhelmingly voted to eliminate body checking at the peewee level (ages 11-12) in an effort to further skill development and ease players into body checking. Chemmy has a great write up about it at The Leafs Nation:
Expect the usual knuckle draggers to say that we're "pussifying" the game or we're turning players into "sissies". I feel genuinely sorry for any kids being coached by these people. Want proof that this is the right move? Even guys like Mike Milbury, fresh off of making an oh so witty "Sedin Sisters" joke, doesn't think raising the checking age "softens" the sport:
"Don’t get me wrong. I love the physical part of the game, but I believe the introduction of physical play into the game should come at a deliberate pace. It starts with teaching body contact — rubbing, bumping, edging out and gaining proper positioning on an opponent — rather than focusing on hard hits." - Mike Milbury
We want to keep kids safe and we want more kids playing hockey instead of quitting our sport because they're worried about getting hurt. Kudos to USA Hockey for taking what will prove to be an unpopular stance. It's the right one.
It was absolute the right move on USA Hockey's part. Expect to see participation numbers at the peewee level and up rise considerably within the next two years, and to see better skilled American players making a big impact at the upper levels a few years down the line.
More links after the jump.
Puckin 'Eh looks at the price of obtaining the much sought after.
VLM wants to know if anyone else thinks this is a good idea. Yes. Yes it is.
MLHS continues their look at possible Leaf draftees.
From finger biting to name calling, Roy MacGregor sees this as a black eye for the sport.