Midget hockey is missing something
There is no other way to say it, so let’s just get it over with.
Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador got it wrong when it comes to body checking and midget hockey.
There is no sugar coating. There is no maybe if they had of tried this it would have worked. The higher ups of the organizaiton made a mistake in removing body checking from one of the highest levels of hockey we have to offer our young athletes.
Now, I know I’ve written in this space that the sport could survive without the body checking. But, that was before I had the chance to watch a game of midget hockey.
You know what, I got it wrong too.
I still believe that bantam hockey may be able to survive without body checking, but at the midget level it just can’t.
Prior to the start of this season, HNL removed body checking from all midget and bantam leagues outside of teams ranked in the A division, AAA, high school and major midget divisions. That leaves all other players out in the cold.
What we have are players who are playing high school hockey that are being asked to move from an environment where there is body checking to one where there isn’t. That adjustment can’t be easy.
In plays where they’d be required to finish their checks or punish a player moving through the neutral zone with their head down, they can’t do it. They’re forced to hold up and that just hurts the game.
To be frank, it just isn’t pretty hockey. There is little life to the game, as players appear to be going through the motions more than anything.
The ones who can skate excel, but the ones who struggle to move their feet are left behind. Maybe they would struggle in an actual hockey game, but physical play can be an equalizer.
Cheap shots with the stick and body are going to climb as players struggle with new rules that, when you look at it, could lead to more injuries for players. Player safety was one of the pillars HNL built its decision on.
Body checking allowed midget players to let out their frustrations with other players in a way that could benefit that game. I’m not talking about the take-a-run at the guy play, but the clean body check to let your opponent know you’re there.
It was a way for players to po- lice the game by themselves in an effective manner. It was a way for players to get themselves hyped on the bench.
It was good for the fans. brought life to the rink.
HNL pledged to take another look at the issue prior to next season. Let’s hope they do.
Make no bones about it, there is something missing from midget hockey.
It was a way for players to police the game by themselves in an effective manner.