News DailyDish Players
Radio Discuss

Daily Dish: Defund the Refs and End Defensemen Inequalities in Hockey? - Junior Hockey News

Published: Monday, 28 Sep 2020  
By: Stephen Heisler,

Much like our society as a whole, the game of ice hockey has never really addressed a glowing issue among skating players; defenseman get less developmental opportunities than forward line skaters. On-ice game officials have a history of systematically targeting defensemen with aggressive enforcement.

It’s true, from the beginnings of the game, there has always been more forwards than defenseman.  But like other groups across the spectrum of society, defensemen deserve the same equal opportunity as forwards.

Defensemen also spend far more time in the penalty box in comparison to offensive players. Is it time to re-think the entire system in an effort to end systematic oppression of our beloved blueliners?

Let’s not forget all the glory and accolades that get showered upon wingers and centers for simply doing their job.  Defenseman rarely get credit for a job well done.  Let’s face it, the goalies get all the glory for a shutout, but the blueliners are doing a lot of the work too.

We here at recognize the inequality of the game and feel that the governing bodies of the sport need to immediately take measures to equalize the opportunities.

Our suggestion is to simply remove the center from the game.  That player can easily be transitioned into a forward’s role.  We believe this will create more opportunities for all defensemen across the entire game.  Yes, we are talking about four-on-four hockey.

Some will say this idea is ludicrous, that there is no place in our game for such drastic measures.  But, like the world, the game has evolved.  Head protection, goalie masks, and the evolution of sticks have dramatically improved the game, while creating a hostile environment for defensemen.  Fighting is gone while more and more defensemen are being penalized for what used to be a clean check.

It’s simply not fair.

The game will be criticized if the governing bodies do not properly address this gross injustice.  I feel that hockey’s leadership should consider stepping down to make way for those with a fresh perspective.

Defensemen across the continent, and around the world, should be united in the effort to equalize the number of skaters on the ice.

The new organization, United Defensemen of the World, is making several demands that could shake up the balance of the game.

*Enforcement of mandatory awareness and inclusion of developmental curriculum for both players and coaches alike.

*An increase in the percentage of former defensemen as coaches to 80% by the 2024-2025 hockey season.  And the development of a 10 year plan to promote an equal and more inclusive game.

*An increase in funding to hire an oversight director to address all instances of inequality within the game.

*Defunding of game officiating programs to redirect those resources to a centralized system that calls penalties through video from a remote location. Doing so will put a stop to the systematic favoritism that offensive players take advantage of.  

Often times the biggest perpetrator of the inequality is the media itself.  JuniorHockey.Com is not entirely innocent.  It is true that we’ve allowed the bulk of our content to come from leagues and teams.  It’s unfortunate that this content includes a disproportionate amount of exposure given to non defensive players.  It’s simply not fair.

What can we do as a game to help make defensemen feel equal?  Let’s face reality.

Four-on-four hockey might sound ridiculous, but the truth is that I made you think about it.  See how simple it is to influence another?  Do you see how others might pick bits and pieces from this article and spin it to mean something entirely else?

I’m afraid that is exactly what is happening across our planet.

Most of you will read this and not be sure that it’s a bit of a joke.  It seems like our society as a whole is entirely too caught up with the actions of a few to realize that our response affects so many. 

Just because two or three ignorant people make ridiculous signs or use even more ignorant choices of words, it does not mean that one segment of the population or another is racist, criminals, or terrorists.

Let’s hit the nail on the head here; a small segment of the entire population of the world is going to be evil.  That is within any occupation, churches, mosques, temples and governments, the element of evil exists.  It’s up to the rest of us to find a way to separate the evil actions of a few from the humanity of the masses.

I’m not any better than you, you are not any better than me.  We are equals.  Let’s stop demonizing law enforcement, races, religions and beliefs.  Instead, why don’t we all individually treat all others as we like to be treated ourselves?

So what about defenseman? They get more minutes away.

Author: Stephen Heisler from
Stephen Heisler has spent a lifetime in the game of hockey. Stephen is also working with individual teams, coaches, and players as a director with Victorious Hockey Company. Stephen, his wife Deysi, and four children reside in Orlando, Florida.

* Disclaimer: This site may contain advice, opinions and statements from various authors and information providers. Views expressed in this article reflect the personal opinion of the author, Stephen Heisler, and not necessarily the views of does not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any advice, opinion, statement or other info provided in the article, or from any other member of this site.
See more of by logging in
Your online community for Junior Hockey!