NWHL among 17 international hockey organizations to adopt declaration of principles

Yesterday, the National Hockey League and the NHL Players’ Association unveiled its Declaration of Principles, an initiative to advance teaching, policies, and programs to strengthen hockey and its global communities.

The National Women’s Hockey League, which is gearing up for its third season, was among the 17 organizations to join in adopting the principles. The Declaration was signed by NWHL founder and commissioner Dani Rylan at the conference in Manhattan.

Pat LaFontaine, the NHL’s Vice President of Hockey Development, and Los Angeles Kings President Luc Robitaille, who attended the Sport at the Service of Humanity conference last October at the Vatican, were instrumental in developing the set of principles which were praised by Pope Francis. LaFontaine read Wednesday the letter the NHL received from the Vatican on behalf of Pope Francis and signed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin:

“His Holiness Pope Francis was pleased to learn that an international group of hockey organizations has chosen formally to adopt the Declaration of Principles that emerged from last year’s Global Conference on Sport at the Service of Humanity. His Holiness trusts that this significant gesture will inspire greater appreciation for the pivotal role played by sports and sportsmanship in training future generations to pursue personal excellence and to promote the spiritual values of teamwork, solidarity and mutual respect so necessary for the building of a more just and fraternal world.”

[More from Excelle: Seven-year-old girl to miss first hockey season for refusing to wear ‘discriminatory’ club jersey]

In total, the initiative notes eight key principles touching upon health, inclusion, the value of sports, and promoting a positive experience that hockey’s governing bodies see as a way to promote cultural changes which will positively impact the sport. The full Declaration of Principles can be read below.

Declaration of Principles

We believe every leader of the sport has the responsibility to inspire stakeholders in an effort to deliver a positive family hockey experience. Hockey participation offers families value beyond making an individual a better player or even a better athlete. The game of hockey is a powerful platform for participants to build character, foster positive values and develop important life skills. These benefits are available to all players, desirable to every family and transcend the game.

Today, guided by our common values, we jointly pledge to the following Principles. We believe:

  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.

We believe in our ability to improve lives and strengthen communities globally through hockey. We believe that living by these Principles will provide a healthy, balanced and enjoyable experience for all and inspire impactful service beyond the rink.

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