One of my favourite things about going to a major junior hockey game is watching the young players skate around during the first intermission. They travel in packs and skate at the speed of a turtle. But do they have fun. For the majority of boys and girls who strap on skates and pads, they play hockey simply for love of the game. As much as having fun is the number 1 priority, playing safe is priority 1A. Here are three initiatives that are bringing hockey safety to the forefront. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300"] (Photo: Wikipedia)[/caption] • CHEVROLET SAFE & FUN HOCKEY PROGRAM According to research conducted for the program, only 38 percent of Canadian parents believe they’re responsible for teaching kids about on-ice safety; more than half (55 percent) think it’s the coach’s job to teach hockey safety. Cassie Campbell-Pascall, a two-time Olympic champion in women’s ice hockey, is a Safe & Fun ambassador and believes the program helps parents be more proactive in ensuring their kids are not only having fun on the ice, but also playing safe. “Kids are being allowed to do things on the ice that they wouldn’t be allowed to do at home or school. The same rules [of behaviour] should apply.” Campbell-Pascall speaks from experience, having herself been taught a lesson about unacceptable behaviour at an early age. As a young player, she once got kicked out of a game after chasing down a player who took a penalty on her. “When I got to the lobby, my mom asked me for my skates. I lost them for about a week. It was a valuable lesson.” This free program teaches players and parents not only about hockey safety, but also respect. Parents will also be given tools to strengthen their relationships with everyone in their child's hockey life: the coach, other parents and even the minor hockey association. • HOCKEY CANADA Their new smartphone app focuses on concussion prevention and symptoms, rules, respect and return-to-play guidelines, and even includes maps to nearby hospitals. [caption id="attachment_2948" align="aligncenter" width="300"] The new app from Hockey Canada is available in two versions, one for kids (shown here) and one for adults (photo courtesy of Hockey Canada).[/caption] This portable resource is easy for coaches to keep with them on the bench and for parents to have on hand in the stands. A version for kids is also available. The concussion app can be downloaded to phones or tablets free from Hockey Canada’s website, BlackBerry’s App World, iTunes or the Google Play Store. The concussion-awareness app has earned an endorsement from Sidney Crosby, a player who unfortunately knows a thing or two about head injuries. Over the past two NHL seasons, he has missed 101 of 164 regular season games because of concussion-like symptoms. Crosby told the Canadian Press that he admires Hockey Canada’s “commitment to educating families and players about all aspects of the game.” [HTML1] • CONCUSSION APP FROM SPORTSAFETY LABS Their smartphone-based app came out last year and also provides invaluable information on how to recognize a concussion. A database allows parents and coaches to keep track of the health records of multiple kids in one place, and a testing program allows you to monitor any post-injury results and compare them to pre-concussion status. You can learn more about the app at StopConcussions.com, a website developed by Keith Primeau, a former NHLer whose career was cut short because of multiple concussions, and Kerry Goulet, who played professionally in Europe and suffered at least two concussions during his career. Earlier this year they published Concussed!, a book that examines sports-related head injuries. Do you talk with your kids about hockey safety and fair play on the ice? Have you ever had to discipline your child for his or her behaviour during a game or practice? Have you or your child ever had a concussion?