Bantam and Midget Checking and Non-Checking Update

Checking Hockey Bulletin for Bantam and Midget Parents and Players

Hockey Edmonton made a decision to remove checking from Tiers 3 and lower in both midget and bantam in April of this year. SPMHA was not consulted, and were informed of the details only a couple of days before it was announced to the public. As a participant in their league, SPMHA is obligated to abide by their rule changes, and as a whole, this rule change is supported.  Hockey Alberta has indicated that they intend to mandate new rules regarding checking across Alberta in the next couple of years. So although today these changes only impact teams participating in the Hockey Edmonton interlock, we expect by the 2017-2018 season that provincial policy will be amended.

Obviously, this impacts a majority of our midget and bantam players for the 2016-2017 season.  The board has spent considerable time evaluating how such change would impact our association and how we can, to the best of our abilities, understand the demands of our membership. A survey was conducted for our bantam and midget participants to get a sense of how this decision will impact our members’ enjoyment of the sport.

The survey results showed that a portion of our membership felt that checking was an integral part of the game.  Slightly less than half of our participants who completed the survey were of this mindset; however, as a duty to those members, we started exploring other possible options. These options included a “development only” checking team, and placing a team or two in another league that still has checking in its lower divisions such as 1660.

Unfortunately the options are not within our ability to execute at this time. 1660 closed its registration for new teams before the decision was communicated by Edmonton. Further, that league is going through changes in its structure which has led to a group of associations starting discussions on creating a new league called the Anthony Henday league. The Anthony Henday league formation is tenuous, and it is unclear if it will commence this season or not. So due to its uncertain future, we cannot count on that as a reliable option to commit SPMHA teams.

In review with other associations that are affected, such as Spruce Grove and St Albert, those associations are not electing to offer alternative programming outside of the Edmonton interlock or outside of the parameters established by the changes.

SPMHA is amending our evaluation procedures in both Bantam and Midget to allow those players that don’t make the Provincial A or B checking teams, the opportunity to try out in another association if they so choose. After an initial evaluation process in both Bantam and Midget, the evaluation group will identify the players that are still being considered for checking teams. Once that group is identified, outlying players shall have the ability to go out and try to find another hitting team prepared to take on such player and apply to play for that new team under the Player Movement policies of Hockey Alberta. Some details regarding the movement process are listed below.

Requesting a release is not an easy decision to make. It is important to review such practical things as added travel time & commitment for games and practices, financial costs related to travel or additional MHA/team fee as well as any impact a chance of association may have on your child. Your child may very well be playing for a team where they do not know anyone and transitioning onto this team could be challenging for some children.

If your child requests a release under the player movement policy, it is your responsibility to find an alternate accepting minor hockey association. SPMHA will not liaise with other MHA on your behalf. Please keep in mind that as the evaluation process progresses, it will become increasingly difficult to find an accepting MHA and/or a body checking team that is congruent with your child’s skill level and hockey ability.

Following the initial SPMHA evaluation process, the procedure for requesting a release under the Hockey Alberta player movement policy is as follows:

1)        Notify your respective divisional director and VP senior as soon as possible when you decide to request a release.

2)        The director will email you the Hockey Alberta Player Movement form and instructions on how to proceed.

3)        The player finds and approaches a new minor hockey association (MHA). If that association is willing to accept the player AND place them on a body checking team, their President will sign the Player Movement Form (PMF). NO PLAYER CAN GO ON THE ICE WITH ANY ASSOCIATION (OTHER THAN SPMHA) UNLESS THE PLAYER MOVEMENT REQUEST HAS BEEN APPROVED BY HOCKEY ALBERTA. VIOLATION OF THIS POLICY MAY RESULT IN INDEFINITE SUSPENSION OF THE PLAYER IN QUESTION.

4)        Once the accepting MHA president has signed the form and confirmed the player’s spot on a body checking team, you must contact the SPMHA VP senior and forward the completed PMF. The SPMHA VP senior will confirm that the PMF is complete and will forward to the SPMHA president as soon as possible. The SPMHA president will then sign the form as the resident MHA.

5)        Once both signatures are on the form, the PMF will be sent to hockey Alberta. The final decision will rest with Hockey Alberta and the Zone 7 Minor Regulation Coordinator.

6)        Once a decision has been made (typically within 24 – 36 hours), a letter will come from the Hockey Alberta Office outlining the decision as either approved or denied.

7)        If approved, the player would proceed to the accepting MHA for the season and is now permitted to participate in all on ice activities with that association. At the end of the season, the player would automatically be transferred back to SPMHA. Prior to registering for the next season, you must contact Lesley Chase to formally request a “Return to Home Transfer” in the Hockey Canada registry.

8)        If denied acceptance by another MHA or by Hockey Alberta, the player would be returned to SPMHA. They would have the option to continue on with the SPMHA NON-BODY CHECKING program however please note If teams have already been created, the returned player may not make their desired team level of play. SPMHA will not “hold” spots for players exploring other hitting options.

9)        Released players will receive a refund of their registration fees minus a pro-rated administrative fee, determined by Lesley Chase (SPMHA Operations Manager & Registrar).

Again, it is important to keep in mind that we fully expect that this will only be an issue this upcoming season as by the following season we would expect Hockey Alberta to mandate standards for checking hockey in Bantam and Midget across the province.

We intend to have a “town hall meeting” in the very near future to discuss these issues but felt it was important to get this information out to families in a timely manner.

If you have any further comments or questions please contact Carlie Smith (VP Senior) at: spmhasrvp@shaw.ca.