Hockey helmets now mandatory for everyone on the ice

By Kim Hutchison

Staff Reporter

It seems Hockey Alberta’s most recent decision has been receiving an equal amount of applause and boos.

Roughly two weeks ago it became mandatory for minor hockey coaches, trainers and volunteers in Alberta to wear helmets while on the ice, or inline surface, whether at practice or a game, making it the last province to follow suit.

There is a temporary grace period, but after Jan. 1, 2009, any coach caught not wearing a helmet will be indefinitely suspended according to Hockey Alberta President, Terry Ledingham.

Many feel wearing a helmet should be a personal choice and one coach in Alberta even resigned because it no longer is. Ledingham wished him well and told CBC news they weren’t going to wait until another tragedy takes place.

In October, Strathmore Bisons coach Rob Ebbesen died after falling and hitting his head on the ice and last winter, Calgary coach Troy Williams fell while skating backwards ultimately resulting in a brain hemorrhage and a fractured skull. His wife, Tracy Williams, led a campaign to make helmets mandatory for minor hockey coaches in the Calgary Hockey Association and now Hockey Alberta has taken it province wide. She said she realizes people who don’t want to follow the rule will partly blame her, but she is happy no one else will have to worry about this type of accident happening to their loved ones.

“I think this is a great thing,” said Ponoka minor hockey coach Willie Jones. “We suggested it at the beginning of the season and we’re glad to see it now being taken seriously. 95 per cent of us were already wearing them and those who weren’t are now on board” he said.

“Anything to improve safety is a good thing,” said Ponoka in-line hockey coach, Dave Simanton. “I suppose it’s just as easy to go down on wheels on cement as it is on blades on ice,” he said.

Hockey Alberta has recently teamed up with key partners Source For Sports and CCM/ Reebok to show their support and offer a special deal to any registered coach, assistant coach and team official. Go into any Source For Sports store in Alberta until Feb. 1, 2009 and receive a 30 per cent savings on any CCM or Reebok Helmet.