Chirping your opponent is a time-honoured practice in hockey, but chirping about the wrong subjects this year is going to land you in hot water.
Hockey Canada members are enforcing a new maltreatment rule this season in an effort to clean up discrimination.
Derogatory comments relating to race or sexual orientation, for example, will not be tolerated, Williams Lake Minor Hockey Association (WLMHA) president Mike Rispin said.
“The penalties are severe. If you get caught saying any of those things on the ice now it’s an indefinite suspension while they do an investigation … what was considered normal before is not normal anymore.”
Intended to address incidents on ice, ‘Section 11 - Maltreatment’ was unanimously adopted by Hockey Canada and its 13 members June 22. The aim is to bring all forms of maltreatment, including abuse and racism, under one section of the rulebook and provide guidelines for escalating penalties based on the severity of the inappropriate behaviour by players and team officials.
It also supplies clearly-defined criteria for enforcing rules related to inappropriate conduct. Infractions mean an indefinite suspension pending a hearing, as well as mandatory hearings for repeat offenders.
According to Rispin, Section 11 has already resulted in some players in B.C.’s north-central region facing disciplinary action.
“I think players and coaches really need to read up on it,” said Rispin. “I’m not saying you can’t chirp and have fun and razz the other team, I’m saying … talk to your kids, make sure they know what they can and cannot say.”
Hockey Canada also approved a new national reporting system for discriminatory taunts, insults or intimidation, both on the ice and outside of game play. The new rule and reporting system includes, but is not limited to, discrimination based on race, ethnic origin, skin colour, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability.
“Hockey Canada has made a firm commitment to making the game safe and inclusive for all who wish to participatet,” Tom Renney, chief executive officer of Hockey Canada, said in a news release on Hockey Canada’s website.
“We believe this is a great step towards ensuring we limit the number of incidents that occur on and off the ice, and will allow players of all ages to enjoy our game free from abuse, discrimination, racism and all forms of maltreatment.”
Hockey Canada Rule 11.4 – Discrimination
“Any player, goaltender or team official who engages in verbal taunts, insults or intimidation based on discriminatory grounds shall be assessed a Gross Misconduct penalty. Discriminatory grounds include the following, without limitation:
Race, national or ethnic origin, skin colour or language spoken; Religion, faith or beliefs; Age; Sex, sexual orientation or gender identity / expression; Marital or familial status;Genetic characteristics; Disability.
The Referee shall report the individual(s) by completing a Game Incident Report including full details and submitting the Report to the appropriate Member or League delegate.”