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What The 'New Normal' Means for Minor Hockey

By Dan Pollard, 02/14/20, 9:15AM EST


The changes leading to a better minor hockey experience

Photo Credit: Devan Mighton Photography

We all love the sport of hockey. There is no doubt about it. That’s why when a new idea is introduced the process of change can be a challenge. The first step in any change is determining its value and benefits. It needs to start with the purpose or intended advancement.

When the cross-ice initiative was introduced by Hockey Canada it was to create a significant value to the player to not only further enjoy the minor hockey experience but to expand their skillset.

“We wanted an opportunity for every player on the ice in that smaller space to be more active, touching the puck, and we really believe that skill enhancement occurs in a more prevalent manner in cross-ice hockey,” said Scott Smith, President and COO of Hockey Canada.

Hockey Canada is constantly making advancements and refinements in its initiatives to shares across the 3,200 minor hockey associations in Canada. In looking at registration trends it was important to understand the reasons for why parents not only chose to register their kids in hockey but why they decided to leave the sport.

“Ideally if we can fix some of those trends then we keep more kids in the game and ultimately our registration numbers will grow. Our focus to grow the game is more at working with our members to afford grassroots opportunities for growth.”

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Programs like First Shift and Hockey Canada’s Dreams Come True program provide equipment and ice time to new players and the opportunity to get into the game at a reasonable financial level. Hockey Canada receives funding from hosting international events and is able to re-invest this into growing the sport.

With increased programming options in hockey and choices across all seasons in youth sports, Smith is an advocate for multi-sport participation.

“If you read the majority of our literature on personal development and the development of athletic skills and abilities we really recognize and really support the concept of not just playing hockey but playing more than one sport. We think there’s great value. We also think it’s part of our responsibility in making sure that our boys and girls are well-rounded and have a wonderful athletic experience in hockey and also other sports.”


Dan Pollard is the host of Breakaway, The Minor Hockey Podcast. His passion for hockey led him to volunteer as a coach and administrator while his professional career has allowed him to cover the game at various levels with CBC, Sportsnet, the NHL Network and TSN. You can currently hear Dan every morning on 105.5 Hits FM in Uxbridge.

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