Sunday, May 27, 2012

Junior A Supplement Extended Two More Seasons, Stronger Penalties Coming:



In addition to the news that Vernon was awarded the host of the 2014 RBC Cup, another impacting development is the extension of the Junior A Supplement. 

It appears that in addition to the Supplement being extended, even stronger regulations are coming down the pike. Here's the portion of the release from Hockey Canada at the conclusion of its AGM this past weekend:

Developments at this year’s AGM included:
• the loyalty program/ Club Hockey Canada on schedule for a 2012-13 launch;
• continued progress and discussion on a renewed governance framework being developed for 2014;
• the Junior A pilot program for 2011-12 has been extended for two years for further research, with the immediate addition of stronger regulations to reduce fighting and on-ice violence;

• branch updates, constructive discussion and positive feedback on the implementation of the zero tolerance contact to the head rules in minor and female hockey across Canada in 2011-12;
• updates on Hockey Canada’s priorities: recruitment and retention, technology and e-learning.

As a refresher, back in August of 2010, the Canadian Junior Hockey League released this announcement regarding the supplement:

A group of five Member Leagues within the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) are proud to announce an unprecedented joint effort to eliminate violence and bullying from Junior A hockey. 

This initiative has developed from a partnership between the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL), Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL), and Maritime Junior Hockey League (MHL), who have formed together to create the Junior A Supplement, which will be launched as a pilot project in the 2010-2011 CJHL Season.

The Junior A Supplement has been created to protect junior-aged hockey players by addressing actions such as Blows to the Head, Dangerous Hits, Accumulated Major Penalties, Accumulated Misconducts, Instigating and Unnecessary Fighting. The supplement increases team, coach and player accountability through the tracking of repeat offenders, increased suspensions and significant financial penalties. It builds on the progressive regulations undertaken over the past decade by the participating Leagues and Branches to reduce bullying and violence from Junior A Hockey in Canada. 

The pilot project was developed as a response to the implementation of Hockey Canada Regulation 6.7, which calls for an automatic game misconduct whenever a major penalty for fighting is assessed. The participating Member Leagues have gone one step further by targeting the types of dangerous plays that often result in fights and other types of violence. The Leagues within the pilot project will not be subject to Hockey Canada Regulation 6.7, which will be implemented across the remainder of the Leagues in CJHL.

"The five Member Leagues involved in the creation of the Junior A Supplement have taken a tremendous step in the effort to reduce and eliminate violence and bullying in Junior A hockey," said AJHL President Craig T. Cripps. "Our League and its teams, coaches and players are committed to providing a safe environment for every player while also maintaining an exciting, physical brand of hockey on the ice."
The Junior A Supplement has been developed in cooperation with the provincial branches of BC Hockey, Hockey Alberta, the Saskatchewan Hockey Association, Hockey Manitoba, Hockey North, Hockey Nova Scotia, Hockey P.E.I. and Hockey New Brunswick. 

The two-year pilot project will compare data from the participating leagues using the Junior A Supplement and a control group using Hockey Canada Playing Rule 6.7. The data will determine whether fighting is reduced in the Junior A game by ejecting a player for his first fighting major and the effect on other aggressive and violent behaviour.

The CJHL called the supplement a success last year with this article, posted on its website in July 2011:

The Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) has declared the Junior A Supplement Pilot Project a success after in-depth review of the new initiative. In August 2010, a group of five member Leagues within the Canadian Junior Hockey League showcased an exceptional commitment to player safety with the announcement of a joint effort to eliminate violence and bullying from Junior A hockey. The League Presidents and Commissioners recently met in Calgary, Alberta to discuss potential revisions to the Junior A Supplement for the 2011-2012 season and further review the successful results of year one.

The Junior A Supplement is an unprecedented joint initiative between the CJHL and Hockey Canada. The Junior A Supplement was created to protect junior-aged hockey players by addressing actions such as blows to the head, dangerous hits, accumulated major penalties, instigators and unnecessary fighting.

"At the start of the 2010-2011 season we implemented an innovative, proactive and responsible approach to addressing player safety issues facing hockey today, including head shots and dangerous hits," said CJHL Chairman Kirk Lamb. "The CJHL and its leagues were ahead of the curve and we have since seen other leagues, such as the NHL and the CHL, follow suit in implementing more focused and rigid regulations relating to these issues. Player safety is a concern at all levels of hockey, for a variety of different reasons, and the CJHL broke new ground with the Junior A Supplement and has set new standards - not only in Junior A hockey, but for sport at all levels."

The fundamental themes surrounding the Junior A Supplement are safety, education and communication. The Junior A Supplement increases team, coach and player accountability through the tracking of repeat offenders, increased suspensions and significant financial penalties. The Junior A Supplement dramatically heightened the awareness of issues surrounding player safety and dangerous hits throughout the League, including the players, game officials, coaches, media and fans.

Publications regarding the new Junior A Supplement were strategically dispersed at the onset of the 2010-2011 season to ensure all participants were educated of the pilot project and to further increase the chances of success. Players and game officials received handbooks created specifically to address their participation in the project. All coaches were also required to sign a 'Coaches Code of Conduct' which outlines their responsibility to the initiative and a commitment to player safety.

The five leagues involved in the Junior A Supplement experienced several positive advancements throughout the first year of the pilot project. Leagues could now clearly identify trends and repeat offenders and can also confirm that only a small percentage of players are repeating what would be considered dangerous acts. The Junior A Supplement forced these players to alter their behavior in a positive way. Staged fights and multiple fight situations were all but eliminated, and players participating in six or more fights throughout the season declined substantially across all leagues.

Competitiveness within the League from top to bottom increased in 2010-2011, "The quality of play and skill exhibited within the MJHL this past season was the best the League has seen in the past ten years," stated Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) Commissioner Kim Davis.

The participants within the Junior A Supplement include the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL), Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL), and Maritime Junior Hockey League (MHL). The two-year pilot project will compare data from the participating leagues using the Junior A Supplement and a control group from the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) using Hockey Canada Playing Rule 6.7. The data will determine whether fighting is reduced in the Junior A game by ejecting a player for his first fighting major and the effect on other violent behavior.

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