OHA Getting Tough On Fighting

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OHA Getting Tough On Fighting January 8, 2013 8:31 AM

We all know that Hockey Canada and USA Hockey are doing all they can to eliminate staged fighting. There are two sides of the argument, and we are not saying which is right or wrong. Protecting players is and should always be the number one priority I think everyone would agree with that statement no matter how you feel about the new fighting rules.

Unfortunately though these new points of view can also influence a decision when one player fights to protect one of his team mates. The OHA has made a suspension for fighting in a case that stems from protecting or sticking up for a team mate.

The Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League is running a tight ship these days. They want clean games, and they want those games to influence the growth of the league. Nothing wrong with that at all, until you penalize a player and a team for doing what is traditionally right in the game.

Chatham Maroons defenseman Jake Flegel has been suspended for 13 games by the Ontario Hockey Association for his latest fight. Thats right folks, 13 games when this player has only had six fights, including one in the pre-season. A little overboard? Flegel was penalized as the instigator and aggressor in a fight Jan. 3 in St. Thomas. Considering hose were his fourth and fifth penalties of this nature this season, including two in an exhibition game, the OHA has gotten this one wrong.

Why did they get it wrong? This player is a player. He is not a goon patrolling the ice looking to mix it up every night. This is an All Star Defenseman.

Flegel, an overage player in his last season of junior hockey has nine goals, 20 assists and a team-high 99 penalty minutes in 31 games. He’s second in scoring among Western Conference defensemen and sixth in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League.

Is the kid a tough player? Sure, but his reputation for toughness and grit should not play into the OHA taking away nearly 20% of this players last season. After all the GOJHL selected Flegel as Western Conference Defensive Player of the Month for October, 2012, you would think they would know this is not a player that is dirty.

The GOJHL should be greatful that a three year Tier II OJHL veteran is actually playing in the league and providing valuable leadership to the Maroons young players.

With one game already served, Flegel will sit for 12 out of his final 14 junior games. The Division leading Maroons are now without one of their leaders, and the league has lost one of its best defensive players. This is one time the OHA has gotten things completely wrong.

By Joseph Kolodziej

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