Objective: In this study we investigated the association between the introduction of the checking-from-behind rule (CFB) in the Ontario University Athletic Association (OUAA) hockey league and player safety.
Design: Injury and penalty data were collected for the 3 years prior to and the 3 years following the introduction of the CFB rule in 1989.
Participants: There were 653 injury records and 389 penalty records for 3 OUAA teams that had complete records for the 6 years.
Main outcome measure: In the absence of any a priori evidence, the null hypotheses of no association between the CFB rule and injuries or penalties, apart from a logical assumption that there would be a pre-/post difference in CFB penalties, were tested.
Results: Although the injury rates for each of the body segments (heat/neck, back, shoulder) demonstrated a significant independence (chi 2 = 56.66, df = 2, p < 0.001) from each other in relation to the pre-/post rule period, only the CFB penalty rates exhibited significant independence (chi 2 = 16.58, df = 2, p < 0.001) from body contact and stick-related penalties.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that the introduction of the CFB rule was related to a safer playing environment as reflected by a pre-/post rule decrease in two of three categories of injury, increased CFB penalty rates, and the absence of significant association between the CFB rule and the decreases in body contact penalties and stick-related infractions. It appears that the medical community, with the supporting clinical data demonstrating CFB-related injuries, has helped create enhanced safety without significantly changing player behavior.