‘The Time Is Now To Give Our Kids The Ability To Develop’

Over the course of his 17-year NHL career, Bret Hedican let his solid defensive play and smooth skating style do most of his talking. Now, in his post-playing years, the St. Paul, Minn., native makes his living as a television analyst with the San Jose Sharks.

Tag-Up Offsides Back In The Game

USA Hockey’s board of directors also voted in favor of bringing tag-up offsides back to the game at the 14 & Under level and above for both youth and girls’ divisions.

The move was approved to bring USA Hockey in line with other countries.

Immediate offsides will continue to be called at younger levels.
The rule change will take effect at the start of the 2011-12 season.

So when he stepped up to the microphone during a Town Hall meeting at USA Hockey’s Annual Congress, Hedican commanded the attention of the packed room.

“I was always one of the smallest kids on my team, and it wasn’t until I was 17 and grew seven inches in a year that gave me the opportunity to be more physical,” recalled Hedican, an athlete director with USA Hockey.

“I really feel the development of my game suffered during those [early] years when I could have been
developing my skills and not having to worry about just surviving on the ice.”

For every player that survives and thrives on the ice, there are plenty who have been driven away from
the game because they lack the basic skills to skate and handle the puck with confidence before checking is introduced into the game.

That’s why, as Hedican said, “… the time is now to give our kids the ability to continue to develop.”
USA Hockey’s board of directors overwhelmingly agreed by passing the Progressive Checking Skill Development Program that will encourage the teaching of fundamentals of body contact at an earlier
age while delaying the start of legal body checking until the Bantam age level.

Prior to the vote, former NHL players such as Tom Chorske and John Vanbiesbrouck, who also sit on the USA Hockey board, echoed Hedican’s comments.

“I think Brett’s comments, and the comments of others, exemplify what we’ve heard from elite players since we began this process,” said Kevin McLaughlin, senior director of Hockey Development for USA Hockey and a driving force to get the rule passed.

“They know that it takes time for a player to develop into an elite athlete.”

The program, which goes into effect at the start of the 2011-12 season, is another step in an overall skill development program that is based on long-term athlete development principles that are the cornerstone of the American Development Model. According to medical professionals, it will also make the game safer at a critical point in young players’ development.

While much of the attention has been focused on when legal body checking will start, the bulk of the program centers around teaching angling, body positioning and body contact through a series of skill progressions beginning at the Mite age level.

Key components of the program will be the continued education and training of coaches and officials.
Beginning in 2011-12, every coach will be required to take an age-specific training module, which will provide training information for the age category the coach will be engaged with. Each module will
include training information for body contact and body checking.

Officiating clinics will include a review of the points of emphasis relating to the standard of play, as well as the differences between body contact and body checking.

In addition, officials will also have to adjust to a tighter standard of play regarding intimidation hits in legal body checking divisions as well as hits to the head or neck area.

Issue: 
2011-08

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