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Opinion on body-checking ban topples minor hockey kingpin

The Oakville Rangers defeated the Flamborough Sabres 6-0 in Pee Wee "AE" action in Oakville on Feb. 2, 2011. Flamborough's Chris Addison, in blue, goes head first into the corner boards off a hit from Oakville's Himmat Dhillon. Dhillon received a penalty on the play. Addison was not injured.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

When Todd Millar used the word moron to describe those who didn't want a body-checking ban in pee-wee hockey, he had no idea he was penning his resignation.

His comments were kept to a personal blog. He mentioned no minor hockey association by name, no specific person. Still, when the five-month-old remarks surfaced Sunday in a local media report, Millar knew he had no choice but to resign as president of Hockey Calgary.

"We all have ways to shoot off steam and I made comments on a public blog," said Millar, who confirmed his resignation Monday after seven years as voluntary president and a strong supporter of eliminating body checking for 11-year-old and 12-year-old players in Calgary. "I got my share of comments over the body-checking issue. A lot of nasty comments were sent to me. Having said that, [his blog comments] were probably better put in a personal journal."

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The body-checking debate was well under way in late April when Millar wrote on his personal website, "There are so many morons in this game that can't understand that, by simply changing a simple rule, you will save the well-being of 11- and 12-year-olds. Children's safety should come before any of the moronic arguments I have heard."

The arguing was so intense some parents suggested they would move their children outside of Hockey Calgary's jurisdiction so they could play in a league where body checking was allowed. The stated concern was kids from Calgary would be a disadvantage competing in tournaments against Alberta teams schooled in body checking.

At Hockey Calgary's annual general meeting in June, the 24 member associations voted against the no-body-checking proposal. Hockey Calgary was looking to make the game safer after a medical study conducted by the University of Calgary's Carolyn Emery showed Alberta peewees were at three times the risk of being injured – and four times the risk of suffering a concussion – compared to their Quebec counterparts. The problem, as many parents and officials saw it, was that Hockey Calgary was moving too quickly without following protocol.

"It was being run like a dictatorship," said a parent who requested not to be identified.

In the end, Millar's critics argued his personal opinions brought his leadership into question.

In late August, Hockey Calgary's associations voted 54 per cent in favour of an amended body checking rule. The new motion asks that body checking be removed throughout the province with the approval of Hockey Alberta and Hockey Canada. There is no indication when or if that will happen.

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About the Author
Sports writer

Allan Maki is a national news reporter and sports writer based in Calgary. More


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