Hockey P.E.I. has issued a warning to players that if reckless and disrespectful behaviour doesn't improve, players could be removed from their teams.
The organization sent a memo to members Jan. 26 after noticing an "alarming" increase in the number of game misconducts and major penalties in the last month.
Hockey P.E.I. executive director Connor Cameron said there's too much body contact, head checking and fighting, often by players he calls repeat offenders.
"People don't enjoy going to the rink to see violence or something that's outside the playing rules," Cameron said.
"We've decided to kind of increase the penalties to those people who continue to act this way."
Most incidents in U-15, U-18 leagues
Cameron said most of the incidents occur in the U-15 and U-18 leagues. He said the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic may be affecting players looking for a way to relieve frustration.
"You kind of look at the different stresses and anxieties that players, parents, coaches, and volunteers are under that's something that we've been watching very closely."
He said Hockey P.E.I. will be analyzing players' behaviour to see if it's the same people involved over and over.
"That pattern of behaviour can be over a short period or a long period. It could be a player that was suspended multiple times in years past with similar penalties or it could be someone just this season who has had a number of incidents in a short period of time," he said.
We passed the message on to our coaches, this will not be tolerated and it has to stop. — Keith Ford
Keith Ford, president of Charlottetown Minor Hockey, supports the crackdown on repeat offenders.
"If they're repeat offenders and they're not getting the message, maybe suspending them for the rest of the year, they would get that message," he said.
"We passed the message on to our coaches, this will not be tolerated and it has to stop."
Ford said Charlottetown Minor Hockey has had games where the penalty minutes get as high as 25.
"When you look at the numbers, they are alarming," he said.
"I hope it stops, I hope the penalties decrease. Let's enjoy it and play it the way it's supposed to be played."
There is reason to be optimistic. Since the memo came out, Hockey P.E.I. said it has seen an improvement in behaviour and a sharp decrease in incidents, and there have been no suspensions.
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