WINNIPEG – Approved at the Hockey Canada Annual General Meeting this past May in Calgary, Hockey Canada’s new head contact rule will be introduced with zero tolerance enforcement in a plan to cut down on the number of head injuries suffered in hockey. Hockey Manitoba and the 12 other Hockey Canada branches will put the new rule in effect immediately, beginning at the start of the 2011-12 season. Hockey Manitoba Executive Director, Peter Woods, comments; “the focus of the new head contact rule is to ensure player accountability…it is the obligation and responsibility of Hockey Manitoba to provide all members with the confidence that they are being protected within the rules of the game and to minimize risk.”
For minor hockey and female hockey the new rule will now introduce a minor-penalty for any accidental contact to the head of a player and will also see stronger repercussions for deliberate hits to the head which will include a double-minor, or a major penalty and game misconduct at the discretion of the referee. Junior and Senior hockey also have high emphasis on head contact but will have slightly altered definitions and penalties in comparison to the minor hockey and female game. Garth Leoppky who is the volunteer head of Hockey Manitoba’s officiating program also comments on the new rule; “the job as officials will be to support Hockey Canada's desire to move the hockey culture away from "hitting to hurt". This change will take effort, periodic reinforcement, and will not happen overnight. As officials, we too will go through an evolution and just like where the Checking from Behind rule is at today, we hope that in the future we are only criticized when infractions for head contact are not called."