There is a new development program being issued by Hockey Canada that has had a lot of different reactions. Some like it, some don’t.
I think the biggest reaction to the new half-ice ice development program is that there are so many questions and potential issues and not enough answers at this point!
I am not even going to attempt to explain it here in this column, although the Cole’s Notes version is that, mandated by Hockey Canada by 2019, all kids eight years of age and under will follow a progression until they get to play full ice.
I personally believe in the reasons and benefits. I think we can do a better job of development and helping kids enjoy the game by playing in smaller spaces.
For example, youth soccer is played on smaller fields, youth baseball plays on smaller fields — it makes sense.
In hockey, kids will get to touch the puck more, shoot more and be in involved in the game more, make quicker decisions and have more fun.
The kids in the Soo Peewee Hockey League actually follow a lot of same things, they are just extending it and giving some guidelines. There are a lot of benefits, some are hidden.
It will take some of the high intensity, emotional games out for parents and kids hockey until they are nine years old. This will help in development and will help in kids and parents not getting burned out by the time they are 13-14 years old. I hope so anyway!
The issues and questions are many — change is always hard and the unknown is hard. The issues start with — when do the changes occur?
The 2010 age group has been playing full ice for two years. Are they going to have to go back now — and will it hurt them? My opinion is that it will.
Where do we get all the goalies, equipment, dividers etc.? Tournaments that provide revenue, do we find ways to make it work? Why are Toronto’s 2010 kids not going to play half ice? Why is every small town in Northern Ontario treated the same — all have different issues! Lots of questions to still be answered!
The people in charge of the NOHA and Hockey Canada will help us understand the benefits as I am doing but they have to help people understand how we deal with the issues.
I am all in if it is good for the kids and I think with some answers I am sure parents will be as well.