Our minor hockey paradigm for the last century had mostly stayed the same. Rule changes, age shifts, coach training and other components were standard fare. Now, with Hockey Canada’s leap forward into mandating cross ice in I.P. and then novice, brains will need rewiring.
Last week, I pointed out what coaches will need to do. That’ll be tough enough. But as we knows all too well, the minor hockey “industrial complex” as it were has multiple branches. Each will require a distinct paradigm shift in attitude and approach.
Parents, this means you first and foremost. At first, this will all look as though we’ve turned the game upside down. It won’t be hockey the way we played it as kids ourselves. The smaller spaces and fewer kids in games will seem out of sync with what we know. Adapted rules, fewer (if any) referees, numbers of lines, proximity of coaches on the ice and other peculiarities just won’t look normal. Will coaches know what to do, what to teach, how to adapt? Are parents going to be patient? Will there be a few parent leaders able to step up and help explain how this will actually benefit the children, that adapting space is what is done in every children’s activity and hockey has been the last to climb on board? Better late than never, right?
Who among local association board members will best be able to clearly address the change by linking it to child development, not just hockey development? We will need more than just the puffery of elected officials who might resort to simply quoting the Hockey Canada party line of “it’s now a rule and we must do it.” These people will need to be vocally supportive because they’ve educated themselves on the topic and have already explored how best to make it work in their regions. Perhaps this change will force associations to have more hockey technical competencies among its executives, folks whose skills go beyond the administration work we need to now include more complete knowledge of development. For instance, two line teams of seven (including a goalie) to play 3 vs. 3 cross ice, or three line teams of 10? What will be best for the kids, not just expedient for the registrar?
But finally, this. The winners will be the children whom we don’t ask how teams should be formed, how many aside, what rules to use, or how big a space they should play on. They’ve known it all along. Road hockey, gymnasium floor ball, and local outdoor rink games are all small space. It’s for fun.
A rule that will circuitously make the game more fun and attractive. What a concept. Hockey Canada: the children thank you.
Read Parts 1 to 3 of the Deflections Cross Ice series here:
1) The New Age of Hockey Training and Development
2) Jack Hughes wins 2017 Hockey Player of the Year Award for Ontario
3) 4 Takeaways from the 2017 WHL Cup
4) Kids Share Love of Hockey with Taste of Fame at 2017 BT Hockey Classic
5) Team Canada Roster Named for 2017 Women’s Worlds