Hockey summit seeking public input

Entering the new millennium, the Canadian Hockey Association is prepared to change its system and is requesting feedback from the general public on how to do it.
CHA president Bob Nicholson has asked people to log on the Internet at to read what it feels is pertinent information regarding the state of Canadian hockey.
All feedback must be sent in before the CHA holds its semi-annual meeting next month.
From most accounts here, many believe it would be in hockey’s best interest to have as many people as possible voice their concerns and opinions.
“I think we need to get on board,” former long-time Muskie coach Terry Ogden said.
Lynn Kellar, president of the Fort Frances Minor Hockey Association, added they’ll definitely be interested in looking at the recommendations and instituting changes if they foresee them as “benefiting” players in the local program.
“We’ll try to address some of the issues [but] it’s hard to say if the board members will look at the recommendations and see them as relevant to our association,” he noted.
“It’s hard to say we’ll make changes with all the recommendations but we’ll take a look at them.”
Nicholson’s request is the second step to the CHA’s plan to improve the game in this country, which has been under scrutiny after Canada’s poor performances in the recent international competitions.
It first took a hard, long look at itself in August at the “Open Ice Summit” in Toronto, where players, coaches, management, and parents from all levels discussed the future of hockey.
They came up with 11 recommendations:
•appoint a salaried mentor or master coach for every minor hockey association to assist volunteer coaches;
•change the practice-to-game ratio so the number of games does not exceed practices (the current ratio is as low as 1:3);
•address the issue of age determination so that players born late in the calendar year aren’t always the youngest in their given division (the cut-off date currently is Dec. 31 but the CHA is looking at the option of rotating it);
•raise awareness of the importance of skills development, and establish a system to measure and celebrate it;
•market and implement CHA’s initiation program in places such as public school system to introduce kids to hockey;
•develop a mental skills component and a mentor program into minor hockey that helps players with their decision-making in a game;
•examine raising draft ages in the National Hockey League and the Canadian Hockey League;
•initiate a public awareness program that stresses respect for participants, rules, and the game itself;
•educate all Canadian players and stakeholders on the “Open Ice” recommendations;
•promote co-operation between school boards and hockey associations to take advantage of under-used ice times during the day and move towards a development of sport schools; and
•expand communication to all levels of hockey on program developments.
Ogden agreed practices have to be re-evaluated, not only in terms of how many times a team practices but also in what they do during that time.
“It would be good to shoot for 3-1 but 2-1 would be a reality. In my experience, people just don’t want to practice,” added the former University of North Dakota player.
“Every kid should have a puck [at practice] and practice has to be fun. And that’s the challenge in coaching–practices have to be fun,” Ogden stressed.
Gord McQuarrie, a director on the local minor hockey association board, said that’s the area they’ve already addressed, and noted they will be looking at the other recommendations in the near future.
“We’re working on it. One of the first thing’s we’ve looked at is practices over games,” he remarked. “But I’d prefer to call [the practices] skill development . . . [and] we will be looking at the other 10 [recommendations].”
And Kellar warned it may take time for people to adjust to the changes, if any.
“Once people become educated, then they start to be more at ease,” he said. “We’ll try to address some of the issues.”