Fighting Down In OHL With New Rules In Place

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Fighting Down In OHL With New Rules In Place November 26, 2012 9:40 AM

This season the OHL implemented a new rule aimed at limiting, but not eliminating, fighting. Known as the 10-fight rule, the rule change seems to be working so far.

Fighting is down from 0.92 a game last season to 0.71 through this past weekend, a reduction of about 20 percent.

Under the new rule, a player who fights more than 10 times will receive an automatic two-game suspension each additional time he fights. Once he reaches 15 fights, his team is also fined $1,000 for each additional time he fights. Going further, any player who receives an instigator penalty after reaching the 10-fight level will be suspended four games.

Last season, 25 OHL players would have been suspended under the current 10-fight rule. But this year, because of the new rules, players are being much more selective when deciding to drop the gloves.

The general purpose behind the new rules were to get rid of staged fighting. Influenced by the NHL and its gradual drop in fighting, as well as the emphasis on it, the OHL looked to get more in line with preparing its players for the NHL.

The OHL sends more players to the NHL than any other development league. David Branch the league President, is seen as a leader in player safety reform in junior hockey. The OHL, under his leadership, imposed penalties for hits to the head four years before the NHL did. Branch was also the person behind the rule change that keeps players from removing their helmets before a fight. The change regarding helmet removal has been seen as controversial by some as they have said it causes players to injure their hands in a fight, while others see the change helping reduce fighting because of that possible injury. The rule change though has also helped reduce the amount of staged fights.

While fighting is still seen as a necessary part of the game, the reduction in fighting has lead to greater player protection, and has forced players who would have been only enforcers in the past, to develop their skills on ice. The reduced fighting in the NHL has all but eliminated the player that once was only an enforcer. Players now must be able to contribute on a regular shift in a regular role. The OHL’s move toward that same model should prove to be something that allows them to stay at the top of the player development system in Canada.

By Joseph Kolodziej

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