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Hockey Coaches Cannot Touch Players On The Bench In This Toronto Girls' League

02/05/2015 07:17 EST
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A girls' hockey league in Toronto has prohibited touching of any kind on the bench, and some say the edict goes too far.

The Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey Association sent an email to coaches this week informing them that they could not have any physical contact with players behind the bench, such as touching shoulders or smacking posteriors, The National Post reported.

They can't even tap a player's helmet.

UPDATE: Feb. 5 -- The association has issued a clarification of its earlier note, saying that the policies outlined in its email to parents were "guidelines," The National Post reported.

But the email wasn't limited to instructions around physical contact. Coaches were also reminded by house league head John Reynolds of its policy that two adults have to be in a dressing room at the same time, as well as its ban on social media communication and other rules surrounding emails.

The message to coaches follows a complaint about a volunteer parent who squeezed a player's shoulders and slapped a player's posterior, league president Jennifer Smith told the Post.

And though the gestures were not considered serious, the league took action and notified coaches about their policies anyway.

"No harm, no foul," Smith told the newspaper. "Just a reminder, hey you can't do this."

Some people, like hockey coach David Trombley, say it isn't necessary to tap a player on the shoulder, CTV News reported.

But others, like hockey parent Lucy Winston, feel the policy shouldn't be in effect during games.

"I think it's a real shame in a public situation on the bench that they're not allowed to give a congratulatory tap," she said. "I absolutely understand behind closed doors and in the locker room, but maybe on the bench and on the ice, it's a different situation."

Ottawa Sun columnist Susan Sherring encouraged people not to shoot the messenger over the policy. A former director with the Nepean Minor Hockey Association, she pointed out that rules surrounding contact with hockey players changed after former NHLer Sheldon Kennedy spoke up about being abused by coach Graham James.

But she also said it's likely leagues will continue to "adopt similar stringent rules."

"Don't like it? Sorry, you'll have to lump it," she wrote.

Hockey Calgary executive director Kevin Kobelka told The Calgary Herald that his organization is satisfied with the Leaside association's touching policy, though it doesn't have the same rules.

Coaches with Hockey Calgary can tap players on their helmets or shoulders to encourage them, but they can't be in closed spaces with them, and they want them to refrain from smacking players on the behind.

"When you're out in public, you're celebrating success, I think a lot of players like a tap on the head or shoulders," Kobelka said.

"We're OK with that. We just expect common sense from our coaches."

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