Hockey head hits concern Grey-Bruce-Owen Sound MPP

To The Expositor:

I read with interest, the ‘body checking’ article by Alicia McCutcheon, which appeared in the May 18th, 2011 edition of the Manitoulin Expositor, (Body checking banished from minor hockey for fall season’ Page 1).

Our Owen Sound Attack OHL ‘Jr. A’ hockey team recently competed in the Memorial Cup at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga. Rough play was more than evident during the series with little attention from the presiding referees. Two of the Attack players received serious injuries and were sidelined for the balance of the series.

The poor officiating in the Memorial Cup coupled with the player injuries that are occurring both in the OHL and the NHL, prompted me to address this issue in the Ontario Legislature during its May 31st, 2011 session. I have enclosed my comments to the Provincial Legislative Assembly. In light of the May 18th Expositor article, I thought you might be interested in my remarks.

I always enjoy seeing The Expositor. I compliment and congratulate you and your staff on a most informative newspaper.

Yours truly,
Bill Murdoch, MPP
Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound

EDITOR’S NOTE: Mr. Murdoch’s address to the Ontario legislative is reprinted below.

Tuesday 31 May 2011

MPP Bill Murdoch: Our national sport of hockey has become plagued with career ending, life-threatening hits to the head.

Earlier this season we saw star NHL players like Sidney Crosby and Marc Savard sidelined for months because of vicious head shots that left them unconscious.

There is no doubt that physical play is a key feature of the game, but there is no excuse we’re allowing dirty players to get away with vicious, illegal hits to the head.

Recently, players from the Owen Sound Attack became victims of vicious attacks at the Memorial Cup. These illegal hits went unpunished by the referees.

Canada is known around the world for producing the best players the sport has to offer, but the future of our young stars is in jeopardy.

Junior hockey officials in Canada, namely OHL Commissioner David Branch and the Memorial Cup’s Discipline Chair Brian O’Neil are failing to protect Ontario’s most talented players.

Despite incompetent and corrupt officiating, the Attack not only clinched its first OHL championship, but captured some of the game’s highest honours.

Andrew Shaw was awarded the Ed Chynoweth Trophy by NHL Central Scouting for being the Memorial Cup’s top scorer.

Jordan Binnington was awarded the Hap Emms Memorial Trophy for outstanding goaltender.

The future of Canada’s game and its young stars is in danger from poor officiating and out-of-touch OHL management that fails to consider the future of the game and safety of its players.

If there is any honour left in the officials of the 2011 Memorial Cup and the OHL Commissioner, David Branch, they should resign for failing to protect one of Canada’s most precious assets: our talented young hockey players.