In the windswept hockey rinks of Newfoundland and Labrador, a bastion of sportsmanship faces its latest challenge. The time-honored tradition of the post-game handshake is skating on thin ice as Hockey NL, the governing body of the sport in the province, has executed a surprising play that has left the local hockey community on their heels.
Effective with the new year’s puck drop, the familiarity of glove-on-glove commendations following the final buzzer will be conspicuously absent. This directive is Hockey NL’s response to a series of undisclosed “issues” that resulted in a collection of disciplinary actions, including player and coach suspensions. The decision, however, is not set in stone—it’s to be considered a trial, a testing ground for the policy’s efficacy.
Stepping out from behind the bench to voice her perspective is Shandy Chambers, a vanguard of minor hockey in the community of Paradise. Coach Chambers is more than a strategist; she is a champion of the principles that hockey has long stood for: enjoyment and camaraderie in competition. The elimination of this humble but significant gesture is, to her, an affront to these values and an interrogation of the sport’s integrity.
Her vocal opposition is not without its nuances. Chambers brings attention to a curious aspect of the policy that exempts female teams from this new directive. In her view, this distinction casts an unintended shadow of inequality across the ice, implicitly suggesting that male athletes are less equipped to handle their emotions and devaluing the competitive spirit present in women’s hockey.
Chambers’ concerns found their way to the airwaves of VOCM Open Line with Paddy Daly, where she reaffirmed her commitments as a coach. It’s her domain to stifle unsportsmanlike conduct when it rears its head, just as it falls within the parental crease to guide their young athletes in decorum and respect.
The lingering question she poses to the broader hockey culture, “Why must all kids be meted out the same penalty for the infraction of a few?” hangs in the wintry air. In Chambers’ discerning eye, the cessation of the handshake tradition is not a panacea—it won’t prevent discord from finding a home in less visible corridors, such as locker rooms, hallways, or even the parking lot where the echoes of the game might resonate.
As this tale of sportsmanship continues to unfold, the hockey community’s response to the experiment will be as keenly watched as the final seconds of a tied championship game. What remains to be seen is whether the spirit of goodwill can triumph over adversity in this cold arena.