Minnesota Hockey and USA Hockey with the support of coaches, officials and association leaders have worked hard at providing a safe environment for players. There are a number of programs and resources that have been put in place and are available, such as the SafeSport program, Heads-Up Don't Duck, progressive body contact checking training program, the STOP patch, concussion education and return to play protocol, and most recently the Declaration of Safety, Fair Play and Respect.
Minnesota Hockey is committed to add and improve programs to ensure players safety in the future. However, it's critical that all of us to continue working together to eliminate dangerous and illegal hits, teach correct body contact and checking techniques, and increase players' awareness and respect for one another.
With that in mind, we make the following recommendations:
- Educate and remind your hockey players of the dangers of checking from behind and to eliminate any such hits.
- During practices, work with your players on correct body contact and checking techniques as laid out in the progressive body contact checking curriculum.
- Review with your players the principles of the Heads-Up Don't Duck program.
- Support the officials' calls.
- Review the points of emphasis on body contact/checking.
- Before the game, talk with the coaches regarding the points of emphasis and hits from behind.
- When there is a check from behind or to the head, do not hesitate to make the call.
- Commit yourself to playing hockey the right way and safely.
- Eliminate checking from behind. If you see the STOP patch pull up and avoid hitting the other player.
- Keep your arms down, stick on the ice and avoid direct head contact when applying checks
- Be aware of your location on the ice and proximity to danger zones
DECLARATION OF SAFETY, FAIR PLAY & RESPECT
In June of 2019, USA Hockey launched an initiative called the Declaration of Safety, Fair Play and Respect. The Declaration clarifies and updates existing rules/definitions to emphasize the key points to more clearly outline what is deemed acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Below is a video that shows examples of actions deemed "acceptable" and "unacceptable" to help illustrate expected behavior. For additional details on the initiative, click here.