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Checking in with Roger Grillo (Part 2)

By Jamie MacDonald, 10/31/19, 10:15AM EDT


We continue our conversation on checking and body contact with the man who has the answers, Roger Grillo. 

Be sure to check out Part 1 for more need to knows. 

Mass Hockey: Where do you think the game of hockey is headed as it relates to checking? Do you think the pendulum keeps swinging toward skill?

Roger Grillo: Yeah, I don’t think it’s ever going back. It’s moving in the right direction and it’s much more tolerable to watch. It’s much more enjoyable to play. I think you’ll have more kids coming in and I think you’ll have more in the game. I think there are positives all the way around.

Mass Hockey: What’s something that’s missing?

Roger Grillo speaks with parents about competitive contact.

Grillo: The only thing we would like to see more of are the kinds of things I did [at Bentley] with the checking clinic. And coaches doing a better job of implementing it into the practice environment – not just waiting for it to happen during the game.

Mass Hockey: Would you also suggest this at the younger ages, say 10?

Grillo: We would like to see your 10-year-old be taught some of this stuff now. We want bumping and battling. There’s a contact aspect of the sport, but it has to be proper and safe, and we have to let them know it’s OK but that it has to be done properly.

Coaches working with players at a clinic at Bentley.

Mass Hockey: Should a coach take his own player to task in the midst of a game for not executing body contact properly?

Grillo: I think if a player is doing something that could do harm to themselves or others, yes, it is incumbent upon the coach to not wait for the referee to make the call. Hold the player accountable for the safety of themselves and the safety of the others who are playing. Absolutely. It’s incumbent upon parents and coaches – the adults – to keep the temperature down so the kids can enjoy the game on their terms so they can feel safe, have fun and build passion for the game. That’s part of the environment we’re trying to create for our kids. 

Mass Hockey: Is it safe to say you’re anti-hitting that’s for the sake of hitting, but very much for competitive and strategic body contact? 

Grillo: Absolutely. I think that, with the sport having checking at the higher levels, it’s our responsibility to be teaching it properly and that the kids are being educated as to how and why and when. 

Mass Hockey: When a game is played well with properly coached body contact, what are the advantages? 

Grillo: I think it’s just a much more enjoyable game to watch. There’s nothing better than playoff hockey. And you don’t see guys running around and blowing people up or taking risks where you might injure yourself or take a major penalty when you don’t want to give up that power play. It’s fast, it’s fun, and it’s a greatest sport on the planet. We’re trying to have that on a daily basis every day that kids come to the rink.

Grillo's Checking Clinics Across the State:

9/24 – Competitive Body Contact Clinic Hyde Park Youth Hockey

9/25 – Parent/Coaches Meeting with Triboro Youth Hockey

9/26 – Competitive Body Contact Clinic Elite 9, East Coast Wizards – Edge Ice Center, Bedford, MA 

9/30 – Parent/Coaches Meeting with Brewins Youth Hockey

10/7 – Competitive Body Contact Clinic Beverly Youth Hockey

10/8 – Competitive Body Contact Clinic Amherst Youth Hockey

10/16 – Competitive Body Contact Clinic NEPHL, EMass Senators, Bentley University

10/21 – Coaching Clinic in Waltham

TBD – South Shore Kings

TBD – Danvers Youth Hockey