Risk & Safety Overview

Fundamental to our success and the enjoyment of Canada’s game is the provision of a healthy and safe environment for our youth, our volunteers and all those who contribute to the game. We take this obligation seriously. It starts with our Fair Play and Safety Program to which all parents, coaches and players must commit to reflecting in order to participate within the BMHA. It includes a commitment to ensure all volunteers who come into contact with our youth have been subject to a Level 3 Vulnerable Sector Check at least every three years. It means that we abide by direction from Hockey Eastern Ontario (HEO) and Hockey Eastern Ontario Minor (HEO Minor) when it comes to programs aimed at promoting Respect in Sport - be it for leaders or parents. It means that we have a Discipline Program in place that addresses any breaches of the rules and regulations of the game, and are subject to the disciplinary rules set out by our governing hockey bodies. It means that we take injury prevention and management seriously and ensure that all teams have trained personnel on-hand to support players and coaches, including educating them on prevention and care.

All Police Record Checks (Level 3 - Vulnerable Sector Check) or receipt of payment for a VSC must be received no later than October 31 of the current season. Failure to provide required documents will result in the volunteer being removed from duties until such time the Level 3 - VSC is received by the BMHA. Please see the HEO policy on police record checks for further information.

Click on each heading below for more information about each component of Risk & Safety.

Injury Prevention And Management

Hockey is a contact sport and is one that is played with speed. And as with any activity there is a certain amount of risk attached to it - but if the sport is played the way it is meant to be played – with respect and by the rules, the health benefits will far outweigh the risks. Certain factors or practices which impact injury prevention are:

  • Equipment - Proper equipment and caring for this equipment are essential to injury prevention. Players must have all mandatory equipment in order to participate in any on-ice hockey activity, and in fact, even in off-ice activity, certain equipment may be required.

  • Nutrition - Optimal selection and timing of fluid and food intake before, during and after hockey practices and games is important not only for peak performance, but for injury prevention. A shortage of either fluid or carbohydrates can result in fatigue or lack of focus, both of which play a large part in injuries. A balanced diet everyday is more important than the meal eaten before a practice or game. Consult Canada’s Food Guide on the four food groups and how they influence a balanced diet. Players should always have their water bottle with them for practices and games - constant water intake is very important.

  • Conditioning - Staying active is part of a player being able to be in appropriate condition be it for house league or competitive level hockey. Age appropriate development and how a player both warms up or cools down after a game or practice will contribute to injury prevention.

  • Rules - The rules of hockey are aimed at enabling the game to be played safely. For those who are really keen, Hockey Canada has developed a free rule book mobile app. Each of us is responsible for contributing to a safely played game in some way. Knowing and following the rules helps to prevent injuries. For example, the ‘no head contact’ rule has contributed to the reduction of head injuries and concussions.

  • BMHA Fair Play and Safety Program - Respect for all others involved in the game is at the heart of providing a healthy and safe environment, and this extends to preventing injuries which may occur otherwise. Respect is reflected by five simple statements:

  1. Respect the rules

  2. Respect the officials and their decisions.

  3. Respect your opponent.

  4. Give everyone an opportunity to participate.

  5. Maintain your self control at all times.

  • Team Trainer - Each hockey team is required to have a certified trainer at all games and practices, and in the absence of the team trainer being available, arrangements must be made in advance to ensure such a person is on site prior to the activity. The trainer is responsible to work with coaches, players and parents in managing many of the risks associated with playing hockey including: checking equipment, educating on injury prevention, monitoring dressing room practices, and being lead on assessing and managing injuries incurred including emergency action planning, on-ice injury assessment, injury reporting and following up with players and parents as part of any return to play.

However injuries may well be incurred and how we react to injuries has an impact on the player’s health and their return to play. Team officials, particularly the Team Trainer play an important role in managing those situations; yet both the parents and the respective player are critical in effectively responding to an injury.

  • Head Injuries - These do happen to players and on-ice officials even in the face of preventative measures. Player safety is our number one concern, and there are clear directions provided for the removal of a player from a game or practice, and a return to play protocol exists which is intended to ensure a player only returns to play when appropriate. Education is important and the Hockey Canada site has information that is aimed at supporting team officials, parents and players in any decisions associated with head injuries. Please visit Hockey Canada’s web site or get their mobile app.

  • Hockey Canada’s updated Concussion Policy and Tool Kit

  • Other Injuries - A wide variety of injuries are possible in a sport such as hockey. The Team Trainer will provide care, support and advice as appropriate but they are not necessarily medical professionals. Parents and players are asked to work in collaboration with the Team Trainer and with their family medical professionals to respond to injuries and to ensure that any return to play takes into account player safety as the number one factor.

Injury reporting is an element of our approach which we are adding to our program in 2015-16 to managing risk and safety. We plan on keeping this as simple as possible yet at the same time begin to compile an improved capacity to understand the extent to which injuries are being incurred, and therefore assist in targeting future plans and activities.

Rowan's Law

In May 2013, 17-year old Rowan Stringer died as the result of a head injury she sustained while playing rugby with her high school team.

In the week prior to her final game, Rowan had been hit twice, and likely sustained a concussion each time. These concussions were not recognized, and she continued to play. When she was hit again in her last game, she suffered what is known as Second Impact Syndrome – catastrophic swelling of the brain caused by a second injury that occurs before a previous injury has healed. Rowan collapsed on the field, and died four days later in hospital.

A coroner's inquest was convened in 2015 to look into the circumstances of Rowan's death. The coroner's jury made 49 recommendations for how the federal government, as well as Ontario's government ministries, school boards and sports organizations should improve the manner in which concussions are managed in this province.

Rowan's Law (Concussion Safety), 2018, S.O. 2018, c. 1. Ontario Regulation 161/19 (Français)

As a result of these findings, all BMHA Registrants, coaches, bench staff, officials and parents, if the registrant is under the age of 18, must give confirmation that they have reviewed the concussion awareness resources and the HEO Concussion Code of Conduct before participating.

This is a requirement and is subject to audit by Hockey Eastern Ontario (HEO). Teams not completing acknowledge forms for all players and bench staff will not have approved rosters, preventing the teams from playing in any games. Blackburn Minor Hockey Association will not allow any player on the ice prior to the season start until the signed acknowledgement form is received, this includes pre-tryout skates, tryouts and exhibition games.

Please select and review the appropriate link.

Once you've reviewed the Concussion Awareness Resources and the HEO Concussion Code of Conduct.

Please print, complete and sign the HEO Rowan's Law Acknowledgement Form for each player registered as well as bench staff and return them to your coach, team official or BMHA board member. These forms are required for each player (and parent if applicable), bench staff and officials.

Rowan's Law: Concussion Awareness Resources (Français) will be available in the following three formats: e-booklet, video or e-module. Currently, only the e-booklets are available:

Fair Play And Safety

See the Fair Play and Safety Program for details.

Vulnerable Sector Checks For Volunteers

As part of the BMHA ongoing commitment to the safety of our players, all team volunteers (Head Coach, Manager, Trainer, Assistant Coaches, and anyone else that will have contact with the Players) are required to complete an Ottawa Police Check for Service with the Vulnerable Sector. This applies to personnel eighteen years of age and over.

Persons turning 18 must have a Ottawa Police Records Check completed by the age of 19. Applicants need to complete a police record check, specifically a Level 3 - Vulnerable Sector Check (VSC). Ottawa police administrative fee for the VSC is 20$, and you must attach a copy of the volunteer acknowledgment letter at the time of application. Applications can be submitted online with the Ottawa Police. Upon receiving the response from Police Services, applicants are to forward a copy to the BMHA. We will be closely monitoring adherence to this safety policy.

All Police Record Checks (Level 3 - Vulnerable Sector Check) or receipt of payment for a VSC must be received no later than October 31 of the current season.

Failure to provide required documents will result in the volunteer being removed from duties until such time the Level 3 - VSC is received by the BMHA. Please view the new Hockey Eastern Ontario (HEO) policy.

How do I send my Level 3 Vulnerable Sector Check to the BMHA?

The BMHA will accept an image with your approved Level 3 VSC, or image of your receipt of payment for pending VSC. You may send these by email directly to: safety@blackburnstingers.ca.

My application is pending online, or has instructed me to show up in person, but I don't have a receipt. What do I use to show the BMHA I've applied for a VSC?

Log into your Ottawa Police Services account, and take a screen shot or screen snippet showing the pending request and forward this image to the BMHA (email to: safety@blackburnstingers.ca). An example of this image is provided below.

If your application is pending, please ensure to send an image of your approved VSC (once you receive it) to the email address above. We will follow-up on those volunteers who submitted pending results.

Thank you for your co-operation in this important step to ensuring the highest level of safety for all our young players!

Respect In Sport Program

See the Respect in Sport Program for details.

Mental Health Awareness

Mental health is a critical component of a child’s total health. Recognizing the importance of this, the BMHA encourages kids, coaches, and parents to be aware of mental health and mental illness and seek out opportunities to talk about and support our youth on these topics.

Tools and Resources

Kids, coaches and parents can download and use these apps that are designed around mental health awareness through the app stores appropriate to your smartphone:

Other Resources:

How can you help?

Whether you are a coach, parent or friend, talk about mental health and mental illness. The following are key messages from the Bell Let’s Talk tool guide.

Mental illness

  • Everyone feels sad, worried, scared or suspicious at times. But these kinds of feelings may become a problem if they get in the way of our daily lives over a long period.

  • When there are changes in a person’s thinking, mood or behaviour, and these changes cause a lot of distress and make it difficult to do daily tasks, that person may have a mental illness.

  • One in five Canadians will experience a form of mental illness at some point in their life.


  • Stigma is the attitude and discrimination is the behaviour that results from the negative attitude.

  • Stigma means thinking less of a person because of his or her condition.

  • Stigma can make people feel unwanted and ashamed for something that is not their choice or fault. It is often harder to deal with than the illness itself.

Practical ways to help

  • Treat people with respect

  • Language matters - pay attention to the words you use about mental illness (avoid using words like crazy or wacko)

  • Be kind – be kind and non-judgmental

  • Listen and ask – Listen and offer your support to someone who is struggling by saying “I’m sorry you aren’t feeling well” or “I’m sorry you are having a tough time”

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact the Director of Risk and Safety at: safety@blackburnstingers.ca

The Hockey Environment

Beyond what occurs on the ice is what we do at the arena and in every day life - and these impact the health and safety of the hockey environment. Hockey Canada and the various other governing bodies have policies and guidelines in place which are directed at player well-being and safety. These include on subjects such as:

  • bullying and harassment, including the use of social media

  • the use of drugs and alcohol

  • dressing rooms

  • the 'two-deep’ practice for adults when dealing with youth

  • privacy of information

Communications is a fundamental part of addressing the ‘hockey environment. Should you have any questions, please speak with Team Officials, the respective Division Convenor or the Director Risk and Safety.

Our focus is on fun and development in a healthy and safe environment; let us each do our part in making this so.