Esso Minor Hockey week will run from January 11th to January 19th, 2013. It is recognized as the largest ice hockey tournament in the world. The tournament has brought Calgary teams together for over 40 years and this year will be Esso’s 34th year as title sponsor. The tournament is prestigious in the minds of so many Canadian kids. It’s a chance for players from novice to junior levels to get together for fun and competition.
No event of this size could run smoothly without a dedicated group of volunteers, parents, officials and players. So hats off to the countless number of volunteers each year who provide the kids in Calgary and across Canada with the opportunity to play. Over the week, more than 600 teams and 12,000 players ranging in age from 7 to 21 will take to the ice for this annual tournament. In addition 2,500 coaches and 4,000 volunteers will be involved to make sure the event runs smoothly.
Esso Minor Hockey week is just one example of how hockey is such a prominent part of the Canadian identity. As mentioned in a previous article published in the winter 2012 issue of Hockey Zones Newsletter the state of Canadian minor hockey as we know it today may look quite different in the next decade or so. Hockey Canada’s membership peaked in 2008-09 when it hit 585,000 registered players. However, enrolment is dropping by a little more than 1% a year, or 8,000 players, on the average, per year. The myth is that most Canadian boys play hockey, however, the reality is that the numbers are falling. Only 15.7%, or 1 in 6.4 boys, actually play the game in Canada. If the trend of young males deciding not to play hockey continues, the numbers are expected to continue to lower in the years ahead.
The Concussion Situation:
One of the major reasons behind the predicted reduction in minor hockey registrations is the perception of hockey as an increasingly violent sport in the public’s eye. Hockey is often portrayed as a violent sport based primarily on the contact aspect, otherwise known as checking. With an increase of player concussions and enhanced media coverage this only magnifies the violent perception and issue within our game. This violence is enhanced and glorified in video games.
Vision is not seeing things as they are but as they will be. Therefore, Hockey Canada became proactive and took a strong initiative this hockey season. It started a progressive awareness / education campaign to help keep players safe in our great game, as well as to sustain and to help grow player participation across our country. The theme is “Be Respectful of Everyone on the Ice”. Team Canada Alumnus Sydney Crosby, who has seen his own career derailed by concussion problems, endorses and supports the New Concussion Awareness Campaign.
Sidney Crosby states “I feel very fortunate that hockey has been part of my life since I was very young and admire Hockey Canada’s commitment to educating families and players about all aspects of the game. It is important to always give your best effort and yet always be respectful of everyone on the ice. Be smart, stay safe and have fun.”
Source: Hockey Canada Website

The Hockey Canada Concussion Awareness apps are available in both English and French, with versions for adults and kids. The apps include a variety of resources and information on concussions, focusing on prevention, respect, rules, symptoms and return to play protocol. All these apps are available for Blackberry, iOS and Android devices and can be downloaded free on several websites and platforms including, Blackberry’s App World, iTunes and Google Play Store.
This app has a variety of very useful information on concussions for parents, players, officials and volunteers,” said Hockey Canada President and CEO Bob Nicholson. “Download this app to your phone or tablet today, and you will have concussion information on prevention, rules, symptoms and ‘return to play’ protocol at your fingertips.”
One version of the Hockey Canada concussion awareness app was developed for kids, and is a great tool to teach children how to prevent concussions through respect and playing by the rules. The app also puts important concussion information into easy to follow information for young players. It also contains an interactive game that features Hockey Canada’s mascot, Puckster.
This Hockey Canada initiative is part of a national project bringing together Hockey Canada, ThinkFirst Pensez d’Abord Canada (TFC), a program of Parachute, leaders in injury prevention, the Canadian Centre for Ethics and Sport (CCES) and the Coaching Association of Canada (CAC). The project is aimed at reducing brain injuries in team sports in Canada and is funded in part by the federal government through its Active and Safe Initiative.
The project partners envision a country where all Canadian children and youth have access to safe team sport activities. It is expected that in collaboration with Canadian governments and their community partners, they can accomplish much over the next few years by focusing its collective efforts. For more information on Hockey Canada, its programs and concussion awareness or download the new concussion awareness app, please visit

In the true spirit of Esso Minor Hockey week let’s play hard, let’s play to win, let’s play to have fun but most importantly let’s play safe!! Safety First! Let’s make every effort to minimize concussions in the game!

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