September 06, 2009

Too dainty to hit : The GM Place crowd roared with approval when Canadian players Gillian Apps and Becky Kellar slammed opponents into the boards in the first period of their game against the United States on Wednesday. But the cheers turned suddenly to jeers after the referee's whistle, as the Canadians sulked to the penalty box. The Norwegian referee made the proper call in both instances, yet, to the crowd and to a small but growing number of critics inside the women's game, the penalties appeared to contravene the spirit of hockey. With the sport struggling to build a fan base, some insiders are beginning to ask whether the time has come for women's hockey to amend its rules and allow bodychecking. Many believe that allowing bodychecking would address the inconsistent officiating that plagues the women's game, and reduce the number of penalties. Canadian captain Hayley Wickenheiser, who has played in a men's professional league in Finland, says she "would love" to experiment with bodychecking, particularly in a game against the rival Americans.

posted by tommytrump to hockey at 11:41 PM - 4 comments

"First of all, it's a women's sport and if bodychecking would be allowed, the number of young girls entering the game would decrease rapidly."

Why? I've been around recreational hockey most of my life. Played almost every year at some level since I was a second grader. I've really never met a female hockey player that didn't want anything more than to hammer the guys all night. (C'mon you know what I mean, get yer heads out of the gutter.)

Let's say one of the bigger girls like Angela Ruggiero just starts hammering everybody. What's the benefit?"

Well, for Ruggiero's team, the benefit is pretty clear. But what's to say that a much smaller player couldn't be a physical presence on the ice. Some of the NHL's finest scrappers/grinders are not the biggest guys out there. And there are plenty of big NHLers that don't have a clue of how to use their size anyway.

I'd like to see it. I think the same rules should apply as they do for the men.

posted by BoKnows at 12:19 AM on September 07

It would definitely make the game more watchable if they allowed it. Not so much because of the physicality, but because of the fact that they are doing it anyway, and all the penalties badly disrupt the flow of the game.

posted by TheQatarian at 09:15 AM on September 07

Others are as short as five feet, compared to some who stand six feet, and some players are 50 pounds lighter than their opponents.

The disparity in height and weight is never mentioned as an issue in the men's game, so why should it matter to women? You don't hear Brian Gionta cry about having to play against Zdeno Chara, do you? I sincerely doubt that many of the smaller women would scream about the same mismatch (they are hockey players, after all.) Ultimately, I think it should be left up to those who are playing the game. They really are the pioneers of the sport, and the direction it takes should be left up to them, not the men and women who sit upstairs.

posted by tahoemoj at 01:42 PM on September 07

Having coached and refereed women's hockey at the college level, the game of women's hockey is extremely different from that of the men's. From an officiating standpoint, introducing hitting would make calling a game much easier. I have worked with many refs who have no idea what at a rubout is compared to a bodycheck. But introduction now would have interesting implications. At what level could the girls start hitting? Will all levels adopt it at once or will they just allow it as they move up. Once a girl from the year they allowed hitting made it to the national level, would all the women already playing a that level have to start hitting? I think that the implimentation would be the hardest part. As for the size aspect, size doesn't really matter; there is a certain respect in the game and there are rules to help keep it safe. At the 14 and under age for boys, you will get kids who are 6'2" playing against kids that are 5'. Rarely does one of the smaller kids leave the game hurt and if he does, it is almost always due to the nature of the play and not the size of the player.

Adding hitting may put a fwe more people in the stands but as the game is now, it is very entertaining if you undertand the sport. But, that said, most people don't understand Men's hockey let alone women's. =/

posted by pettym at 04:37 PM on September 08

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