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Hockey Canada wants more non-bodychecking options for young players

Hockey Canada is seeking to create more options for young players looking to avoid the risks that come with playing in contact leagues.

A growing number of hockey players are seeking non-bodychecking environments, said Paul Carson, the organization’s vice-president of hockey development.

He said Hockey Canada wants to accommodate them as much as possible to prevent them from dropping out of the game.

“If there is a fear of injury, if there is a fear of intimidation, then we need to create an environment where those youngsters feel that they can make a choice to play the game,” Carson told The Canadian Press on Friday.

“We as adults in recreational hockey can make that choice.”

Carson added that the demand is particularly high among young players in rural communities.

“Where your collection of players is very small, you’ve got to make a choice one way or another,” he said.

“Do all the players play with bodychecking or do all the players play with no bodychecking?”

Much attention has been focused recently on player safety after a number of serious head injuries to NHLers, including Sidney Crosby.

It is still uncertain when, or if, the Pittsburgh Penguins star will make a full recovery from a concussion he suffered last season.

Carson was speaking ahead of a two-day summit in Montreal on various hockey issues. The gathering ends Saturday.

Along with Hockey Canada officials, participants will include Montreal Canadiens coach Jacques Martin, Hall-of-Famer Luc Robitaille and current Philadelphia Flyers forward Maxime Talbot.