CHA condemns violent acts
Safety programs, education helping to curb injuries

Lynne Koziey
Calgary Herald

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Hockey should be a sport of "skill, speed and strength," not one of violence, a Canadian Hockey Association spokesman said Monday as a Calgary junior hockey player lay in hospital with a broken neck.

"We don't condone or support any type of violent act. The rules don't permit that to happen," said Johnny Misley, vice-president of hockey operations for the CHA, adding that players learn early on the dangers of cross-checking.

Calgary Canucks player Willie Glover, 20, is in hospital with a broken vertebrae and limited movement on his right side, after a couple of Camrose Kodiaks slid with him in the corner boards during a game Friday. It was first reported he had suffered the injury as a result of a cross-check.

"I'm hoping that those junior-age hockey players would have received that type of education way back in their minor hockey days when they're learning how to play the game, and by the time they get to that elite level, it's second nature and they think twice about such acts that the game does not allow," Misley said.

"The game of hockey is supposed to be played with skill, speed and strength and under a controlled environment. Certainly . . . you have to play with controlled emotions."

Misley said a 40-year study conducted by an Ontario doctor found that the number of spinal cord injuries rose in the early 1980s, but have dropped significantly since the mid-1980s.

"The rules of the game have been tightened to not allow that to happen," he said.

Other measures, such as safety programs, player development clinics, educational materials and coaching clinics, are part of the education to prevent these types of injuries.

Misley said one Canada-wide program -- aimed at stopping dangerous playing -- has been a success in curbing the number of checks.

The STOP (Safety Towards Other Players) patch program, which incorporates a stop sign patched on the back of players' jerseys near the neckline, aims to make players stop and think before delivering a bodycheck.

"It's a whole issue of respect that's been paramount in this," Misley said.

New rules instituted this year also address violent checks to the head, and Misley said there are serious ramifications for perpetrators who don't abide by those rules.

"Rules definitely curb it, they quite seriously do," he said.

David Starenky, a teammate of Glover's, said it's violent acts such as cross-checking that makes him think twice before stepping on the ice.

"A lot of the guys found it hard to play (Sunday). Hockey is just a game . . . we do it for fun and it's hard to go on the ice when one of your friends and teammates is up in the hospital," Starenky said.

He said since he started playing hockey, he's been taught it's a game best played cleanly.

"With all the coaches, that's always been taught. There are certainly a few people who decide to venture from that and they become a lot more physical. But we're always told, develop your skill before you develop your size.

"Like Mario Lemieux said, 'weight never put the puck in the net.' "

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