Au revoir, Atom, bye-bye, Bantam — there's new numbers in town

Hockey Canada has approved a regulation change to revise the naming of the minor hockey age divisions used in minor hockey across Canada. Gone will be names, replaced by age categories

Beginning next season, divisions of minor hockey in Canada will no longer be known as Peewee, Bantam, Midget and similar names.

In a sweeping change announced on Monday, Nov. 18, Hockey Canada will move to U7, U9 and other alpha-numeric, age-specific division names.

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At its annual meeting, the Hockey Canada membership approved “a regulation change proposed by the Board of Directors to revise the naming of the minor hockey age divisions used in minor hockey across Canada,” according to a press release.

Following the recommendations of a “task team,” the minor hockey age divisions will become:

• U7 (currently Initiation);
• U9 (currently Novice);
• U11 (currently Atom);
• U13 (currently Peewee);
• U15 (currently Bantam);
• U18 (currently Midget);
• U21 (currently Juvenile).

The changes will impact minor and hockey programs — male and female — under the Hockey Canada umbrella.

The change was initiated by Hockey Canada and its 13 provincial and territorial members, including Hockey BC, and will be implemented nationally for the 2020-2021 season. Junior and senior teams will not be affected by the change.

The move was first considered by regional hockey officials last fall, following concerns about the use of the “Midget” name for that division.

Last year, Athletics Canada said it would pursue dropping the term “Midget” as an age category descriptor, a move that came a few days after the Ontario Basketball Association stated its plans to do the same. The term has been used for decades in a variety of sports, but many consider it to be a derogatory slur.

At the time, Allan Redford, the director of the Dwarf Athletic Association of Canada, applauded those developments and said he hoped others would follow suit.

In a release on Monday, Hockey Canada said it believes “hockey is a sport for everyone and wants all families to feel welcome.” The organization said the change also aligns with the International Ice Hockey Federation age division names and will make it easier for parents to register their kids.

In the news release, Michael Brind’Amour, chair of Hockey Canada board of directors, said: “We believe everyone should feel welcome in the game and in our ongoing effort to make hockey more inclusive, the names of our age divisions will change. We have gone through a comprehensive review and believe this change will simplify the system for families who may be new to the game. I look forward to the new age division names being implemented for next season.”

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