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Updated: Sun, 26 May 2013 21:44:06 GMT | By CBC News,

Contentious debate continues over hockey hitting ban

Contentious debate continues over hockey hitting ban

Hockey Canada's decision to ban bodychecking in peewee hockey Saturday continues to divide people right across the country.

Hockey Canada's board of directors overwhelmingly voted to eliminate bodychecking for peewee players at its annual general meeting in Charlottetown on Saturday, with only the Saskatchewan Hockey Association voting against.

The decision comes in the same month that both Hockey Alberta and Hockey Nova Scotia did away with bodychecking for its peewee players, who are usually 11 and 12 years old. Quebec had also previously banned it.

Not one to be shy about sharing his opinion, Hockey Night in Canada’s Don Cherry explained Saturday night why he disagreed with the sport's national governing body’s decision to ban hitting at the peewee level.

“It would be perfect if all the kids went along [through the minor league levels], with no hitting, and went into a league with no hitting,” Cherry said. “But what’s going to happen is these kids are going to go up to [age] 13, and then they’re going to go in with kids that hit."

“You [Hockey Canada] have good intentions, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions,” Cherry said. “You’re gonna be sorry. You watch and see, you will be sorry,” he said.

Florida Panthers forward and former Saint John Sea Dog Jonathan Huberdeau began his hockey career in Quebec, where a ban on hitting in peewee hockey has been in place for years.

“We only started hitting at bantam. So I think it’s the right thing. I mean, when you’re in bantam you’re [still] a growing kid, so I think it’s better for you so you don't get hurt as much,” he said.

Scott Geikie, president of Saint John Youth Minor Hockey, said he sees the benefit of keeping hitting in hockey but he also has concerns.

“I coach at a Bantam level, 13 and 14 year olds, and I can see some challenges. Especially in two years time for kids moving from peewee to bantam that have not been introduced to the bodychecking,” he said.

The ban on hitting below bantam will come into effect immediately.

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