In partnership with AHAI, the Chicago Blackhawks sponsored a first-of-its-kind event between IHOA and high school captains from the Chicago Catholic Hockey League (CCHL) and the Scholastic Hockey League (SHL).
The seminar took place on the evening of Sunday, September 29th at Fifth Third Ice Arena. The purpose of this event was to bring together officials and high school captains to strengthen the high school game and promote a culture of safety, fair play and respect. Emphasis was placed on USA Hockey’s new changes in rule enforcement as it relates to body checking (namely, eliminating hits to the head, hits from behind and late hits).
Spencer Montgomery, Chicago Blackhawks Fan Development Manager, moderated this incredibly successful evening. Don Mrozik, Illinois Referee-In-Chief played clips from USA Hockey’s Declaration of Player Safety, Fair Play and Respect video which demonstrates acceptable versus unacceptable body checks. Nearly 40 high school captains and/or team representatives watched the video clips and then were able to discuss with officials from the AHL, NCAA Division I and Division III ranks, as well as IHOA President, Eric Cowsill and Dan Jablonic, USA Hockey ADM regional Manager. AHAI Coach-In-Chief, Jim Clare was also on hand to help answer any questions from the players. Ten high school hockey clubs were represented: Brother Rice, Fenwick, Providence Catholic, St. Ignatius and St. Rita from the Chicago Catholic Hockey League (CCHL) and Barrington, OPRF, St. Viator, Stevenson and York from the Scholastic Hockey League (SHL).
What is the Declaration of Safety, Fair Play and Respect?
When the USA Hockey Board of Directors ratified the Declaration of Safety, Fair Play and Respect in June of 2019 its intent was to create a culture that eliminates: 1) hits to the head, 2) hits from behind and 3) late hits.
The onus on modifying the culture lies with everyone in the game, from players, coaches and officials to media, parents, fans and administrators.
While the focus of the Declaration is largely around changing the culture and mindset involved with body checking, there is also language that deals with unsportsmanlike conduct centered around banging on the boards to celebrate a body check. Below this video of Pat Kelleher, executive director of USA Hockey, commenting on the Declaration, there is a document that clarifies the intent around what has been a long-standing part of the USA Hockey rulebook.
Also, in regard to body checking, the video below shares examples of acceptable and unacceptable body checking to help educate all involved in the sport as to the intent of the Declaration, which is focused on player safety and moving our sport forward.
It should be noted that USA Hockey supports legal body contact and body checking. The culture shift is an on-going effort to eliminate 1) hits from behind, 2) late hits and 3) hits to the head by more clearly defining body checking .
It is recognized that this is an effort that will take time and focus that in the end will make the game better for all involved.