Last week, the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players Association held a press conference to release a Declaration of Principles. This was a surprise to me since, well, I had no idea there were plans for one. But the NHL, NHLPA, and many other organizations agreed upon a set of eight belief statements. From the NHL’s PR department, here they are:
1. Hockey should be an enjoyable family experience; all stakeholders - organizations, players, parents, siblings, coaches, referees, volunteers and rink operators - play a role in this effort.
2. Hockey's greatest value is the role it plays in the development of character and life skills.
3. All hockey organizations - regardless of size or level of competition - bring value to players and families in their ability to deliver a positive family experience.
4. Physical activity is important for a healthy body, mind and spirit.
5. There are significant benefits of youth participation in multiple sports.
6. Hockey programs should be age-appropriate for all players, accounting for each individual's physical, emotional and cognitive development.
7. There is great value in all forms of hockey, both on and off the ice.
8. All hockey programs should provide a safe, positive and inclusive environment for players and families regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation and socio-economic status. Simply put, hockey is for everyone.
These is also up at ThisIsHockey.org, which goes right to a NHL page hosting it all in a fancier format. The principles were announced last week but they were so good, they were even extolled in advance of the announcement by the Pope, who as far as I know doesn’t really have any skin in the hockey game.
I think these are a good set of principles. It’s even better that they were apparently co-signed by organizations such as the IIHF, the AHL, the ECHL, the Canadian Hockey League, both Hockey Canada and USA Hockey, U SPORTS and College Hockey Inc., both the CWHL and NWHL, and even the ACHA. The only major North American group that’s really missing is the Professional Hockey Players Association, which is the union that represents players in the AHL and ECHL. But with both of those leagues plus the NHLPA putting their names to this, I’d be surprised if the PHPA would have a beef with it.
The only real beef I could see is if this ends up being nothing more than a surface-level document for PR purposes. Even if that is the case, this is still progress in terms of hockey organizations recognizing larger-scale issues. No, there was not a demand or a need for a set of public principles. That the NHL, NHLPA, and so many others publicly stated them shows that there’s at least an intention and they’re willing to say so. The best case scenario would be that these principles will drive actions to make improvements, whether it’s reaching out to other demographics, making changes at the youth levels to better develop players and people, or lessening the notion that to have a future playing in the NHL, a young player must be 1,000% focused on hockey and nothing but hockey to the detriment of everything else in their life. Will all of this and more happen tomorrow? No. But that’s OK. Progress is often incremental; and a good first step is establishing what a goal or guiding idea would be to start making progress. We’ll see in due time whether these mean anything at all.
Of course, when I first saw these principles, I didn’t think of any of that. I thought to myself: what about this site? What are the principles of All About the Jersey? Sure, I wrote (and said) this two years ago, but that’s just a statement. They’re not principles. This site has been on this network for nearly nine years and there haven’t been any principles declared. That gap could be the thing that’s been holding All About the Jersey back from whatever it is it could be. I can’t go for that. No can do. Therefore, I’ve done what I’ve always done and took it upon myself to come up with some principles to declare.
The All About the Jersey Declaration of Principles
- I declare that this is a New Jersey Devils blog. The vast majority of content will be either directly about the New Jersey Devils or indirectly about the Devils. The latter includes but is not limited to: prospect profiles for potential Devils draft picks, prospect coverage of potential future Devils, commentary on league and larger hockey issues that may touch on the Devils, and coverage of the minor league affiliate, which is now Binghamton.
- I declare that this is a New Jersey Devils blog primarily for Devils fans. It does not matter where you are from, what you look like, who you like, when you started following the team, why you visited, or even how hardcore of a fan you are. If you’re a Devils fan, then this site is for you. To that end, everyone here should be respectful to each other. No pedestals, no ditches, the Devils fans are on the same plane here. Those who cannot play nice with others will not play at all.
- I declare that if you’re not a Devils fan, well, you should be. But, seriously, if you follow the rules and be nice, then you shall be treated well.
- I declare that it is not our job to be positive or negative or any other feeling unless we feel it. We are not extensions of the New Jersey Devils organization, pumping out nothing but sunshine regardless of reality. We are not a collection of dour curmudgeons who lament everything in Devils hockey that is short of a Stanley Cup. Opinions and views change by the writer, by the situation, and other factors. We give you our views, whatever they may be.
- I declare that we do our best to back up what we do think about issues with the team, the players, the coaching staff, and more. We do lean on using stats to support our conclusions. We try to present arguments and stances in a way where, even if you disagree, you can see where we are coming from. This may mean longer posts than other places, but it’s better to spell things out than toss out something short (or worse, a TL;DR)
- I declare that we are not perfect. Nobody is. We can only try to do better at the above and we will.
- I declare that the Rangers inherently suck. So do the Flyers.
- I declare that the New Jersey Devils are the best hockey team to follow no matter the circumstances and you are the best readers - The People Who Matter.
These are a pretty good set of principles and something we’ve been doing at All About the Jersey for years. We’ll keep trying to adhere to them. Hopefully, the NHL, NHLPA, and everyone else adheres to their own as well. Tomorrow will be the final game of the 2017 Prospects Challenge and training camp should start towards the end of this week. 2017-18 is upon us, we’ll keep working at that too. Thank you for reading.