New for the 2019-20 season, the Arctic Lions & Alaska Grizzlies will be providing, free of charge, the STOP (Safety Towards Other Players) program for all of our athletes 10U and older. This is an awareness campaign to make hockey safe for its youth athletes players.
The program involves including a STOP patch on the center back of each player jersey (both home and away) to remind the opposing player any hit from behind is both extremely dangerous and against the rules.
The STOP patch looks identical to a regular street stop sign. This concept was founded in 1995 by Kevin Stubbington, a longtime Canadian coach and referee. Watching one of his own 13-year old players take a brutal hit from behind that sent him crashing into the boards was his inspiration for the STOP campaign. He first pitched the STOP patch concept to cut down on the dangerous incidences of checking from behind. His premise was that if kids can see the stop sign on another player’s jersey, they know they shouldn’t check that player because they are vulnerable to injury. Most spinal cord injuries occur on checks from behind to an unsuspecting player. The program quickly grew and was adopted throughout Canada and then spread to other parts of North America.
Associations across North America have reported the program being extremely effective and that the STOP patches have become like wearing a helmet due to their huge impact on safety in the game. In 2007, Stubbington was the first non-medical winner of the Dr. Tom Pashby Sports Safety Award, given annually to a Canadian whose contributions have led to the prevention of catastrophic injuries in sport.
The Arctic Lions & Alaska Grizzlies are excited to be bringing the STOP campaign to Fairbanks as it is in alignment with our goal to develop strong hockey players in all aspects. Having an increased awareness of the importance of safety, sportsmanship, and clean play is just as critical as learning the technical aspects of the game in terms of player development. We hope to see other associations throughout the state adopt similar programs.
We encourage parents, guardians and coaches to discuss the meaning of this program with their players and the reasons it is important not to hit players from behind. Although they may be playing opponents without a STOP Patch, they should be reminded that a hit from behind is not ok.