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Declaration of Player Safety, Fair Play and Respect

By USA Hockey Repost 11/13/2019, 10:30pm EST

Notification of Emphasis for the 2019-20 Season

USA Hockey is committed to creating a safe and fair environment for all participants. Respect for the game, opponents, coaches, and officials is a critical part of that environment and it covers several different aspects of sportsmanship and fair play. This Declaration of Safety, Fair Play and Respect will guide a change in culture as to what is considered to be acceptable/unacceptable body checking and competitive contact at all levels of play.

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 are videos that show examples of actions deemed "acceptable" and "unacceptable" to help illustrate expected behavior.

What is the Declaration of Safety, Fair Play and Respect?

When the USA Hockey Board of Directors ratified the Declaration of Safety, Fair Play and Respect in June of 2019 its intent was to create a culture that eliminates: 1) hits to the head, 2) hits from behind and 3) late hits.

The onus on modifying the culture lies with everyone in the game, from players, coaches and officials to media, parents, fans and administrators.

While the focus of the Declaration is largely around changing the culture and mindset involved with body checking, there is also language that deals with unsportsmanlike conduct centered around banging on the boards to celebrate a body check. Below, there is a video of Pat Kelleher, executive director of USA Hockey, commenting on the Declaration as well as a document that clarifies the intent around what has been a long-standing part of the USA Hockey rulebook. 

Also, in regard to body checking, the videos (on the site) share examples of acceptable and unacceptable body checking to help educate all involved in the sport as to the intent of the Declaration, which is focused on player safety and moving our sport forward.

It should be noted that USA Hockey supports legal body contact and body checking. The culture shift is an on-going effort to eliminate 1) hits from behind, 2) late hits and 3) hits to the head by more clearly defining body checking .

It is recognized that this is an effort that will take time and focus that in the end will make the game better for all involved.

For all information from this post visit the Declaration site on USA Hockey at

Required reading for all CSYHA participants regarding use of racial/derogatory slurs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Hockey announced today a presidential directive that changes the penalty for racial/derogatory slurs of any kind that fall under Rule 601 (e. 3) from a game misconduct to a match penalty.

“We continue to get reports of disturbing incidents of racial and other derogatory slurs, behavior which is reprehensible and has absolutely no place in our game, especially around our children,” said Jim Smith, president of USA Hockey. “For reasons I cannot explain or understand, the current penalty in place does not seem to be enough of a deterrent to stop this type of conduct.”

Smith noted that while modifying the severity of the penalty is an important step, it’s also vital that parents and coaches take the time to address the topic with athletes.

Effectively immediately, anyone penalized under Rule 601 (e.3) will receive a match penalty, which carries a five-minute penalty, disqualification from that game, and suspension from further participation until such time the governing Affiliate or junior league has conducted a hearing to review the matter. Affiliates or junior leagues have up to 30 days to investigate and conduct a hearing and the offending individual(s) is subject to further discipline.

Pat Kelleher, executive director of USA Hockey, noted the importance of all stakeholders working together for the betterment of the sport.

“The use of hateful language is a hurdle to creating a welcoming environment for families that want to be involved in our sport. Eradicating this kind of behavior from our game is critical as we continue to make a positive impact on society through hockey.”

Why High-Level Coaches Love Multisport Athletes

By Reprint from USA Hockey, By Mike Doyle, 09/03/19, 8:15AM MDT 09/12/2019, 2:45pm EDT

Developing the athlete first, then the hockey player

Picking a single sport at an early age does not guarantee athletic greatness. In fact, it could potentially be a hindrance.

A study by the Penn State College of Medicine polled professional, NCAA Division I and Division III hockey players about their athletic upbringing and found only 12 percent of the athletes specialized in the sport before they were 12. 

Youngsters specializing in a single sport at a young age can be more susceptible to overuse injury and don’t get the developmental athletic benefits of using different movements and muscle groups. 

“Strength coaches, who are the expert in the field, tell hockey players to do other things so they’re not overusing their skating muscles or if they’re soccer players to do other sports so they’re not always using their running muscles,” said Katie Lachapelle, Holy Cross women’s hockey head coach. “To be a well-rounded [athlete] is only going to help you when you do decide to target in on a sport.”

It’s not just a recommendation to play multiple sports – it’s best practices. Just look at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft prospect list, and you’ll see most of them have in common: they played multiple sports. 

Coaches should encourage multiple sport participation for a number of physical, mental and social reasons, all with the long-term goal in mind: developing the athlete first, then the hockey player.

Finding a Different Role

While a player might be a first-liner in hockey, he or she might find they’re not as apt at another game. Finding themselves in unfamiliar territory in the team dynamic can help with a youngster’s social development. 

“You might be really good at one sport and average at another, so to be able to be in different roles on different teams,” Lachapelle said. 

How a youngster handles not being at the top of the food chain can improve how they handle adversity and team dynamics as they get older. 

“How can you still compete? Maybe in lacrosse you’re not a starter but in hockey you’re one of the better players. OK, how do you react? How do you deal with it? Does that make you a better leader and understand everybody on the team? If you’re not the kid at the top of the ladder are you pushing yourself to get better?

“They have to challenge themselves and figure it out if they’re not in the same role.”

Learning from a Variety of Teachers

In youth hockey, it’s common for a player or group to have the same team for consecutive years. Whether it is a parent-coach moving along with his or her child, or a staff moving up with a specific team, players can be locked into the same coaching staff and teammates for a significant chunk of their early playing days. 

Playing other sports will expose kids to new experiences, new teammates and new teachers. 

“One of the biggest things is that you get to be with a bunch of different friends and athletes, and get different experiences with different coaches,” Lachapelle said. “I think sometimes in certain sports, you have a coach you’ve had since 10 because they keep moving up with your age group. So, you’re not exposed to different coaching or different ways to do things. You get locked into one way you lead or how you’re seen on a team.”

Highest Level Athletes Play Multiple Sports 

USA Hockey’s philosophy is to develop the athlete first, then the hockey player.

Lachapelle is an assistant coach with the U.S. Women’s National Under-22 Team. The ladies at the highest level played multiple sports throughout high school. 

“I would venture to say at least 85 percent of them played multiple sports growing up,” Lachapelle said. “Maybe more. And they were pretty darn good at those sports, just the way they work at their craft from a hockey standpoint.”

At Holy Cross, part of the team’s spring training includes an activity besides hockey. 

The team does speed-training workouts, street hockey, dodgeball and team handball. It wasn’t warm enough to play kickball this year, but it’s on the list of things to add into the mix. Tennis, squash and racquetball have become more popular activities of elite hockey players as well. Swimming is a refreshing and fun way to stay active and engage different muscles during the offseason. Biking is a fun and challenging way to get outside.

“It’s for fun but when you take a group of student-athletes, it quickly turns competitive,” Lachapelle said. “It’s a lot of fun and the team gets excited to play other things.” 

She also sees how players on her own squad react in playing different sports. 

“Someone who maybe doesn’t have a significant ice time role, you see them shine in those competitions,” Lachapelle added. “It’s nice to see, as coaches, the different roles people can take during the year. They don’t realize it’s happening, but when you’re watching as a coach, it’s really nice to see.”