Hockey organizations unveil 'Declaration of Principles'September 6, 2017 10:44pm

NEW YORK (AP) — Seventeen hockey organizations teamed up to unveil a "Declaration of Principles" that NHL players hope will boost the game at all levels, particularly among young children and the parents who decide what sports to have them play.

Going beyond the "Hockey is For Everyone" campaign and a partnership with You Can Play that promotes inclusiveness, the league and NHL Players' Association took the unconventional step to list eight guiding principles for hockey culture. USA Hockey, the International Ice Hockey Federation and others joined in on the initiative, which earned praise from Pope Francis and garnered optimism from top players about the impact it could make.

"Hopefully it makes more kids want to play the game, more parents maybe push their kids into playing hockey or starting it at a young age," Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones said. "The things I've learned as a kid just growing up playing — discipline, the love and the passion for the game, commitment — these are all things that you need in life outside of hockey, and that's what the principles are about."

At a news conference on Wednesday attended by leaders from all over the sport, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman called it an "important day" for hockey. Hockey Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine, now the league's vice president of hockey development, spearheaded the process.

The declaration says hockey's greatest value is in the development of character and life skills, and it also noted there are significant benefits to kids playing multiple sports. Among other things, it said programs should provide a safe, positive and inclusive environment for players and families "regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation and socio-economic status."

Asked to evaluate the initiative, Saint Joseph's University sports marketing professor Amie Sheridan said she considers it an effort to grow hockey's footprint and show it's not a cost-prohibitive sport. Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson said he wanted parents and kids to know that.

"I think hockey these days is a much cheaper sport than what it used to be," Karlsson said. "I think that that's something that's important to get out there — that it doesn't actually cost you that much if you just want to play for fun."

Second-hand equipment and ice time aren't available in some parts of the U.S. like in Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby's hometown of Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, one reason why hockey struggles to attract young players who could more easily pick up a basketball or a soccer ball.

Data from the National Federation of State High School Associations shows high school boys hockey participation has been largely stagnant over the past four years, though USA Hockey reported an increase of about 6.5 percent among all youth players over that time. USA Hockey executive director Pat Kelleher said "enormous progress" has been made, but this is another effort.

"At a time when sport is under pressure from issues ranging from violence to doping to corruption, it is helpful for an organization to set principles that guide their behavior," University of Oregon marketing professor T. Bettina Cornwell said. "In terms of marketing, and financial support from sponsors, they want to know what sport stands for and this statement goes some distance in describing a culture that should be appealing to a marketer or sponsor."

The NHL and its teams have already taken stands on topics of inclusion, including the Carolina Hurricanes and Dallas Stars coming out against what they called "discriminatory" state legislation aimed at restricting restrooms for transgender people.

In a letter written to the Archbishop of New York, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said the pope was pleased by the initiative and "trusts that this significant gesture will inspire greater appreciation of the pivotal role played by sports and sportsmanship."

"To be able to hammer these principles — not into the kids, but into the coaches and into the organizations so they bleed it into the kids, that's what's going to draw more people into hockey," New York Rangers defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. It could "draw more parents to say: 'You know what, I like what they're doing over there. Maybe they're not going to play baseball or football and I'm going to get my kids involved in something that's really going to mean a lot for them in their life.'"

___

Follow Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SWhyno

__

For more AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

Page 1 of 1

More Stories Like This

NHL Players to Watch: Sabres Eichel has plenty to proveBuffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel says he has plenty to prove after "two mediocre seasons," making him among the NHL players to watch this season
Another year, another distraction with LPGA's 5th majorGolf Notes: More distractions with the LPGA's fifth major; Leishman reward cameraman who dodged his shot; PGA works to protect against gambling influences
Kansas City Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones (95) catches a deflected pass from Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz for a turnover in front of wide receiver Nelson Agholor (13) and offensive tackle Lane Johnson (65), during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Chiefs take over top spot in AP Pro32 poll; Falcons are 2nd
FILE - In this Nov. 7, 2015, file photo, Tampa Bay Lightning center Brian Boyle (11) gets into position for a face-off against Minnesota Wild left wing Erik Haula (56) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in St. Paul, Minn. Boyle, 32, who signed a $5.5 million, two-year deal with the New Jersey Devils in July, has been diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a type of bone-marrow cancer that the team’s doctor says can be treated with medication, the Devils announced Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt, File)
Devils' Boyle diagnosed with cancer, expects to keep playing
AP-Scorecard
FILE - In this May 16, 2016, file photo, Tiger Woods pauses during a Quicken Loans National golf tournament media availability on the 10th tee at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md. The tournament that Woods launched 10 years ago remained on next season's PGA Tour schedule. Still to be determined is where,  and if, it is held. The tour has opted out of its contract with Congressional next year as it tries to find a title sponsor. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
Tiger Woods' event out of Congressional, looking for sponsor
AdChoices

Related Searches

Related Searches

AdChoices