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Former NHLer Peplinski: Ban bodychecking in hockey until age 16

Apr 25, 2013, 1:22 AM EDT

2011 Heritage Classic - Calgary Flames Practice Getty Images

Jim Peplinski, who played 11 seasons with Calgary Flames, has spoken up about bodychecking in minor hockey across Canada.

According to a story in the Globe and Mail on Wednesday, Peplinski is calling for a nationwide ban on bodychecking until at least the age of 16. As per the Globe and Mail, Peplinski was speaking on the subject at a sport concussions seminar at the University of Calgary.

“On this path, I think we’re going to become dinosaurs,” Peplinski said.

“I’d question whether I’d have kids in hockey as it’s currently organized…I don’t think I would.”

In March, CBC News published an article stating the majority of hockey parents support raising the age of when bodychecking is allowed in minor hockey.

Here’s a snippet of the article:

The Rick Hansen Institute — a not-for-profit organization that works to research and promote the advancement of treatments for spinal cord injuries in Canada — commissioned Angus Reid Public Opinion who surveyed 2,017 adults with children who play hockey or who are fans of the game.

Currently, the practice is allowed in some areas of the country starting at 11 years of age.

The survey — the first of its kind to features fans and hockey parents — found that 88 per cent would support a national policy that would totally eliminate body checking in hockey for ages 11 and 12.

You can read the full version here.

  1. DTF31 - Apr 25, 2013 at 1:43 AM

    I don’t agree with it. I think a bigger issue is that kids don’t actually learn anything about hitting. How to properly throw a check or how to take one. I used to attend a hitting camp every summer for 3 days and we were taught ways to hit properly and how to avoid/absorb checks well. Then they banned the camp in my association because the parents thought it was too violent but I wouldn’t trade that coaching for anything else I received. Totally approached situations differently and hardly left myself open for big hits.

    Call me a caveman but isn’t it funny how head hits were never an issue before anti headshot rules were put into minor hockey? It seems since then (2001ish) that this generation of kids getting killed at high levels are the ones who grew up with that safety blanket.

    • bruins18 - Apr 25, 2013 at 5:01 AM

      Preach! This guy below is a moron

  2. thehighcountrybear - Apr 25, 2013 at 3:05 AM

    Peplinski’s absolutely right…

    The bodies of children and adolescents are going through extremes in growth where cartilage, tendon, ligament and muscle are underdeveloped against demand in carrying loads and forces from rapidly advancing body weight and bone and muscle mass.

    Putting those underdeveloped body components under extremes in stresses and superincumbent loading realized during off-balance hitting in games, during practices and in training causes irreparable tissue damage, the harm of which is realized as youths mature into adulthood and after they’ve left the game. Ask any retired professional what it feels like getting up in the morning, particularly during cold or wet weather…

    While there is great value in all forms of training including developing skills to deliver and receive hits, I see no reason why those skills cannot be developed in a period commensurate with practical application in competitive games? Move permissible contact in hockey back until the age of sixteen, but start training for that contact from fourteen onward under qualified and skilled supervision. Paramount in such training would be development of attendant intellectual skills so hitting would be executed safely and with sporting purpose.

    Bodies will be stronger and more receptive to rigours of exaggerated forces contact hockey brings; with strength comes control and the likelihood of a more responsible approach to use of contact for its original purpose, to separate the opponent from the puck, rather than for the express purpose of bludgeoning and intimidation found in the contemporary game.

    In the meantime and during player development through the age sixteen, players can enrich skating, passing, maneuverability and general flexibility skills without fear of being destroyed every time they forego contact in favour of developing that complete and well-rounded skill set.

    Players permitted to free-wheel with young creative imaginations tend to become those kind of players as they move into major hockey on up into professional ranks.

    If I’m not mistaken, Russia has always banned contact in minor hockey in effort to prevent cartilage damage while it remains soft and growing…wow, such an advanced concept, putting the health of their children before need for brute force? Russians focus rather on developing advanced hockey skills in its children and adolescents, much as they do in Sweden and Quebec.

    I believe that in Canada, Quebec has the only hockey schools focussing purely on advanced hockey skills…

    You need look no further than the quality of players coming out of Russia, Sweden and Quebec to see wherein that benefit lies!

    • tfaltin - Apr 25, 2013 at 8:48 AM

      Not sure I agree with all of the word choices, some seem exagerated, but I definitely agree with the sentiment. Young players can continue to learn the fundamentals of how to hit and how to absorb a check without it being allowed in-game where there is a larger possibility of a traumatic injury. If that opens to the door to a league with more skilled players with speed and creativity, then I think that’s an additional benefit to the health of the young players.

    • gospitfires - Apr 25, 2013 at 10:43 AM

      funny as the last 12 years of the draft dont reflect what u just said. there has been more kids drafted first overall out of western canada/ontario than there is combined kids from russia/swden and quebec drafted that high in the same period.

      as for the second overall pick in that era, there was 1 russian and 2 swedes taken second overall. the other 9 all from western canada/ontario and the US

      so no, it dosnt seem to me to be any correlation between being more skilled (and getting drafted higher) and not checking till later in thier minor hockey careers.

    • stakex - Apr 25, 2013 at 10:59 AM

      I stoppedl reading that wall of text at “Peplinski is absolutely right”. Hes not right, at all.

      Its actually very dangerous to not allow contact until kids are almost full grown. You can’t “teach” keeping your head up and how to avoid checks during a game… its a learned instinct. You would MUCH rather kids learn that at a younger age, when the players are smaller and the game slower. Telling 16 year olds “You can hit now, go crazy” when they have absolutely no experience with full contact hockey is very dangerous, and will result in more injuries… not less.

    • hockeyflow33 - Apr 25, 2013 at 11:52 AM

      No one read this garbled mess

  3. thehighcountrybear - Apr 25, 2013 at 4:24 AM


    Insofar as head shots are concerned, nobody should be determined to be a caveman because they support hitting as it subtly evolved from its beginnings through the contemporary game. Like the players, we were fooled…

    While hockey always included body checking, the severity of hitting evolved as live television coverage of the professional game evolved.

    Attacking style hitting became the stuff of entertainment, separating itself from its original purpose in the game. With entertainment came the entertainment dollar, an irresistible force that compelled further change while bringing baser elements of hockey forward as richer skills were sublimated.

    Hitting is now as important as scoring goals and as often as not, hitting grabs more headlines. But it’s a bent game!

    All was well and good until a sufficient sampling of hockey player injuries and death became too prominent to hide. Players suffering head injuries started refusing to play, and those still playing saw increasing gradation in skills leading to early retirement. With retirement, persistent health problems would leave them essentially unemployable with attendant problems following.

    With closer scrutiny and better science, it has become apparent players badly damaged from head shots and even general in-game contact have been dying at relatively young ages all along. This while many others were demonstrating behavioural and social problems associated with brain damage arising from the same contact issues, even as they continued in the game.

    Head shots and their destructive by-products haven’t changed! The only thing that’s changed is science has caught up with and helped expose a health problem long institutionalized behind closed doors. So who holds the keys?

    As fans, we only qualify as cavemen if we continue to advocate and support behaviour in the game that contributes to destructive brain injuries in its participants.

    There’s something elementally barbaric in enjoying and profiting from injuries and death in young people… as a fan, feel free to count me out!

    • bruins18 - Apr 25, 2013 at 4:58 AM

      Are you serious?

    • bman7206 - Apr 25, 2013 at 6:30 AM

      Did they have any good camps for the chess club? What a tool.

    • ethanmacleod1685 - Apr 25, 2013 at 8:26 AM


    • stakex - Apr 25, 2013 at 11:03 AM

      Dude, go watch golf or something. Hockey is what it is…. a tough, hard hitting sport with some skill thrown in. If you have a problem watching a full contact sport, in which guys will sometimes get hurt, go watch tennis or something. Stop pushing to change the fundamentals of the sport just because they offend you… instead, stop watching the ****ing sport.

  4. bruins18 - Apr 25, 2013 at 4:57 AM

    I learned how to body check and body check correctly at a young age when I learned how to take a slap shot… And yea dirty hits happend but get serious people educating people at that age isn’t gonna change a damn thing. It’s only gonna have them wanting to throw huge hits like the NHL when they finally can. This better not happen

  5. thehighcountrybear - Apr 25, 2013 at 5:43 AM


    No, I was mistaken…studying your expansive and insightful assessment, it’s clear you’ve never been subject to brain damage?

    What, is the word ‘moron’ the catch-all for every half-wit buffoon wholly lacking in class or manners that prowl these pages?

    Try growing up and responding with something other than responses fitting in a junior high back lot…

    As for having a slap shot at age eleven…? I’ve been coaching peewee hockey since 1976, and I have yet to see what could be defined as a slap shot in a player before they reach bantam…good on you, you are a part of a rare breed son!

    • biffnasty - Apr 25, 2013 at 7:05 AM

      Good one

    • bustmustplus - Apr 25, 2013 at 9:48 AM

      I would hate to have one of the dainty little girls you have coached on my team. No good slap shots until Bantams? Minnesota squirts are going upper 90 bar dizzy clap bombs on the reg.

    • bruins18 - Apr 25, 2013 at 1:24 PM

      He your a m

      • bruins18 - Apr 25, 2013 at 1:25 PM


  6. bman7206 - Apr 25, 2013 at 6:34 AM

    Your players are so lucky they have such an articulate, educated coach. Only problem is you don’t know your ass from your elbow about hockey. Maybe the local middle school could use a permanent sub??

  7. jjregan21 - Apr 25, 2013 at 10:06 AM

    If you don’t want hitting, you can go play soccer with the injury fakers

    • yotesfan61 - Apr 25, 2013 at 10:57 AM

      No need to play soccer. Just go play with Dustin Brown.

  8. stakex - Apr 25, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    First of all, you couldn’t ban contact at 16. High school and some junior leagues might well have 17 year olds playing with 14 year olds. How do you handle that?

    Besides, this pansification of hockey really needs to stop. Outlawing headshots? Alright, I understand that though I still think it actually makes people MORE vulnerable to head injuries, not less… but banning contact altogether until 16? Get the **** out of here. That would be like saying kids could only play flag football untill 16. Such a suggestion would be laughed at by most people, and it should be in this case as well.

  9. hockeyflow33 - Apr 25, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    USA hockey instituted a no checking until Bantams last year and every non-helicopter parent thought it was a terrible move. Most kids will now only have one year of checking before high school.

  10. shortsxit34 - Apr 25, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    USA Hockey moved checking from U12 to U14 a few seasons ago. As a referee, I think it was a bad move.

    First, like any skill, kids need enough time to learn to do it properly. Having kids checking for only a few years before entering high school or Junior hockey is a disaster. Give them enough time to properly develop the skills of checking and taking a check. The important thing here is *teach* them these skills. Don’t just let them have it when they hit Pee Wee.

    Second, waiting until Bantam hockey in the U.S. means the largest discrepancy in size between players–some kids have gone through puberty, others have not. Having kids enter without knowing how to check, then letting them have at it when some kids are 4’6” and others are 5’10 already is a recipe for disaster. Kids need to know these skills to prevent injuries.

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