I read this today fresh off a Hockey Canada led coach refresher course where we spent a fair bit of time discussing body contact and checking technique. I flippantly made a comment about not having to worry about checking because I will be coaching the Devil who plays women’s hockey, but I quickly realized the error of my ways because “checking” is about much more than delivering a body check. It’s about positioning, angling, moving your feet, using your stick and legally separating the puck from an opponent. There is, and I’m certain will continue to be, a lot of body contact in women’s hockey, which introduces the risk of head and other injuries in a game played on a rock hard ice surface. The same is true for the boys’ game whether you remove body checking or not.
I agree with the author here in that the majority of severe injuries are caused by actions, which go beyond and often well beyond, the rules. So while I understand the intent of banning body checking until bantam, I believe the underlying message of mutual respect has to continue to be delivered and demanded at all levels of the sport.