Hockey Calgary launched a new rule this season to shield referees from the abuse of players and coaches post game.

The new ruling asks all individuals to refrain from shaking hands and interacting with referees as emotions can run high after a game.

Kevin Kobelka, executive director of Hockey Calgary says there never were rules players must shake hands with a referee post game and they have had mixed feedback with formalizing this.

“We lose 20 to 30 per cent of officials a year, we’re trying to keep more officials in the game. Whether it’s parental abuse, or coach abuse, or player abuse, those things lead to referees leaving the game,” says Kobelka.

Lance McKinnon, chairman of the board for Central Zone Referees says his organization is also onboard with the changes.

“My position is we support the initiative,” says McKinnon.

McKinnon also believes some referees are very young being in their early teens and do not need to face the abuse based on calls players and coaches may view as unfair.

With the amount of games throughout the city, safety is a primary concern.

“We assign 30,000 hockey games, from tyke up to university,” says McKinnon.

The new rules are in place for the 2016 to 2017 hockey season and will be re-evaluated at the end of the season.

The editor responsible for this story is Max Foley, and can be reached at mfoley@cjournal.ca.