Upon analyzing the results of its recent survey of participants, the Greater Toronto Hockey League has decided to propose significant new rules about body checking.
The GTHL, the largest amateur hockey league in the world with over 40,000 participants, will propose to its members that the age at which players start body checking be raised from 11 to 13 in all of its competitive divisions and gradually eliminated from its Single 'A' division over time. The proposed changes are in response to a survey of its parents, players and team and club officials on various topics, which showed that 58 percent of its participants would favour raising the age.
If approved by its members, the age would be elevated to 12 next season (Peewee), and to 13 the following season (Minor Bantam), to account for the 11-year-old Minor Peewee players who already began body checking last year.
Of those surveyed in its Single 'A' hockey, 62 percent were in favour of raising the age to 13, while 57 percent of study participants currently in Double 'A' wanted to see the change. In comparison, 38 percent of respondents in Triple A wanted the change.
Going further, the GTHL will propose that in the Single A division, body checking eventually be eliminated in Bantam and higher age levels progressively year by year, starting in the 2015-16 season. However, the association says it would survey 'A' participants again in two years, before forging ahead with that change.
The GTHL, however, plans to introduce a series of body checking clinics for 11 and 12-year-old players to better prepare them for when body checking is added to their games in later years.
The proposed rule changes would have to be approved in a vote by GTHL member clubs at their annual June meeting before being implemented.