USA Hockey is committed to creating a safe and fair environment for all participants. Respect for the game, opponents, coaches, and officials is a critical part of that environment and it covers several different aspects of sportsmanship and fair play. This Declaration of Safety, Fair Play and Respect will guide a change in culture as to what is considered to be acceptable/unacceptable body checking and competitive contact at all levels of play.
The Declaration clarifies and updates existing rules/definitions to emphasize the key points to more clearly outline what is deemed acceptable and unacceptable behavior. USA Hockey will also provide video examples of these actions deemed "acceptable" and "unacceptable" to further illustrate expected behavior.
When the USA Hockey Board of Directors ratified the Declaration of Safety, Fair Play and Respect in June of 2019 its intent was to create a culture that eliminates: 1) hits to the head, 2) hits from behind and 3) late hits.
The onus on modifying the culture lies with everyone in the game, from players, coaches and officials to media, parents, fans and administrators.
While the focus of the Declaration is largely around changing the culture and mindset involved with body checking, there is also language that deals with unsportsmanlike conduct centered around banging on the boards to celebrate a body check. Below this video of Pat Kelleher, executive director of USA Hockey, commenting on the Declaration, there is a document that clarifies the intent around what has been a long-standing part of the USA Hockey rulebook.
Also, in regard to body checking, later this summer video examples of acceptable and unacceptable body checking will be posted on this site to help educate all involved in the sport as to the intent of the Declaration, which is focused on player safety and moving our sport forward.
It should be noted that USA Hockey supports legal body contact and body checking. The culture shift is an on-going effort to eliminate 1) hits from behind, 2) late hits and 3) hits to the head by more clearly defining body checking and putting forward clear examples of what is acceptable and unacceptable.
It is recognized that this is an effort that will take time and focus that in the end will make the game better for all involved.