Hockey is evolving folks, whether we as coaches, parents, fans or players like it. It's starting at the grassroots. As I wrote a few weeks back, one big step was made by USA Hockey with their new declaration of player safety, fair play, and respect.
I'm hearing a lot from people across the states and my local area (Chicagoland) that there has been a LOT of adapting and trying to understand this emphasis for everyone, and it has caused some headaches.
But let's look at a different type of headache (no pun intended) for which this emphasis is being pushed.
Last Friday Peyton Hoyt of Val-d'Or Foreurs in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) put a controversial check on defensemen Kale McCallum of the Saint John Sea Dogs.
As of this writing, Peyton is suspended indefinitely from playing any games in the QMJHL.
We could sit here and break down the entire play and continue the controversy that our neighbors to the North are currently doing, but the fact of the matter is it was -- at minimum -- a check from behind. I don't want to get into any more of that discussion because I would rather tell you why this type of play is considered predatory, meant for intimidation and will slowly be going by the wayside, at least down here in the states.
Let's pretend McCallum never turns at the last second. With USA Hockey's new emphasis the first thing I see on this play is Peyton didn't even bother playing the puck. His sole mission was to blow up the defensemen and put him through the boards. You can say that it wasn't his intent, but Kale's defensive partner wasn't supporting him down low, so Peyton wasn't coming in to break up a D-to-D pass.
The other thing I notice, that further proves my point that Peyton isn't playing the puck, if Peyton's stick isn't on the ice to try and stop a pass or poke-check the puck away. It's right at his waist. So for you young USAH players, this is going to (or it's supposed to be) called a penalty purely on the fact that no attempt was made to get control of the puck.
Hockey Canada and the QMJHL have their own set of rules on how the game is to be played, but again with the grassroots effect, you currently have our neighbors to the North being taught that it's okay to finish your check, whereas players in the States are being taught the complete opposite. Eventually, some of these players will cross paths in other junior leagues, College or even professionally, and which one is going to be more ready for how those types of games will be played?
It's going to be an interesting next decade of how the game of hockey evolves with this emphasis on certain standards and how it affects the development of players from both the United States and Canada.