New Winnipeg minor hockey rule targets problem parents

Parents with children in Winnipeg minor hockey will be required to take a respect in sport online course starting this fall.

Parents with children in Winnipeg minor hockey will be required to take a respect in sport online course starting this fall.

Officials with Hockey Winnipeg announced the program at a press conference on Wednesday.

They said problem incidents with parents are escalating and last month was the worst they'd ever had.

Hockey Winnipeg officials said the impetus for the course was an incident in 2013, when hockey dad Jason Boyd was recorded on an iPhone insulting a young player.

When the player's father asked Boyd to stop, Boyd threatened to break the man's glasses.

It happened during a at Southdale Community Centre during a game between 15-year-old boys playing for St. Andrews and Southdale.

More recently, on the weekend at a kids hockey tournament in Fargo, North Dakota, two Winnipeg teams were involved in an off-ice fight.

The parents of a player from the River East Royals white team stormed into the Lord Selkirk dressing room following a game.

The mother was yelling while the Lord Selkirk coaches tried to escort her out, the woman's husband went after them, according to Mike Prochnow of the West Fargo Hockey Association.

That's when punches were allegedly thrown in front of the eight-year-old players, said Monte Miller, the executive director of Hockey Winnipeg, the city's minor hockey governing body.

"It's very distressing, very, very distressing," Miller said. "We get very distraught when we hear about things like this. Something needs to be done."

Most incidents are dealt with at the regional level but 10 to 20 complaints were filed with Hockey Winnipeg in the past 12 months.

As part of the incoming rules, at least one parent in each household with children playing hockey will be required to take the online course at a cost of $12. It takes about an hour to complete.

The parent will receive a respect-in-sport number upon completion of the online course. That number is required to register the child for hockey.

If the parent hasn't taken the course, the child will not be allowed to play hockey in the league.

The new rule does not apply to AAA or high school hockey.

Outside of Winnipeg, the only teams it applies to are those from Selkirk.

Hockey Manitoba has not signed on. Executive Director Peter Woods said it's not possible at this point. 

"Especially northern communities, [they] don't have access to online internet connections and whatnot," he said. "So those are some of the challenges that we have to deal with."