Stricter penalties in MN youth hockey could be reversed

9:33 AM, Jun 21, 2012   |    comments
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ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. -- The organization that oversees youth hockey in the state, Minnesota Hockey, made a statement in the weeks after one of its own, Jack Jablonski, was paralyzed after being checked from behind in a junior varsity hockey game.

The rules were changed that made for harsher penalties for any player that made an illegal check.

But now, just six months later, that organization is poised to change the rule back to the penalties it had before that incident.

"We don't let players get away with it and we felt it didn't need to be changed in the first place," Minnesota Hockey safety committee member Eric Olson said Wednesday.

The group will vote this weekend to change the rules back, saying it isn't forgetting about the hit to Jack, nor is it sacrificing player safety.

Olson claims the bigger penalty only penalized kids ability to learn the game, which is the point of youth hockey, and said the rules are fine as they are they just have to be enforced by everyone.

"Just by changing the rules doesn't change the culture all we have done is put more pressure on the officials. Really it needs to be a culture change by the players, coaches, officials, and parents working together to make that change happen," Olson said.

Over in St. Louis Park Bantams were skating the ice that Jack used to skate so news of the possible change there reminds coaches to be mindful that these rules, as they are or as they change, are tantamount to Jack's legacy.

"It's a horrible thing that happened and now thru that we are trying find ways to grow our game and make it even better for these kids," Bantam coach Shjon Podein said.

Rule changes were also made at the High School level this past winter, those, according to the Minnesota State High School League will remain as they are.

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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