With the little progress made to end the NHL lockout, the Ontario Hockey League will receive much more attention throughout the 2012-2013 season. Hockey fans will need their hockey fix from somewhere and the OHL is an especially attractive option. The Western conference clubs produce some of the purest hockey in the world.
For a while now, one of the biggest issues in the OHL has been fighting. According to the Toronto Sun, The OHL has announced new rules that will hand out stiff penalties for frequent fighters and enforcers, forcing players to think twice before they drop their gloves.
The OHL has implemented a rule, effective immediately, which states:
Players who have been involved in 10 fights over the course of the season, will be suspended 2 games for each subsequent fight. If a player is instigated into a fight, it will not count against his season total.
Furthermore, if a player’s reaches 16 fights, the player’s team will face a $1,000 fine for each of their subsequent fight.
OHL commissioner David Branch to the Score:
We see this as part of the evolution of addressing needless fighting in our game. It will be very interesting to see after this season what the results are in terms of hopefully the number (of fights) going down.
If there is a real chance one player will get into 16 fights, it seems that fighting has become a very big issue in the OHL.
Fighting has become a part of hockey culture, whether people support it or consider it an insult to the sport. It has also become a way for players for further their “value” to NHL franchises.
According to the National Post, Spokane Chiefs captain Darren Kramer got into 47 fights in the Western Hockey League during 2010-2011 season. Over in the Quebec Major Junior League, Saint John Sea Dogs defenceman Ian Saab racked up 96 penalty minutes in 26 games last season.
Windsor Spitfires forward Ty Bilcke is the most frequent fighter in the OHL. Last season, he has dropped his gloves more than any player in the OHL.
Blicke is well aware of the risks assoicated with fighting. However, he explains that:
Do I enjoy fighting? I don’t like the word ‘enjoy.’ It’s my job,” says Bilcke, who is 6-foot-2 and 217 pounds. “My job is to go out there and protect guys. In a sense, I’ve built that role for myself. I enjoy sticking up for the guys and being a guy that they know if something happens I’m going to have their back. I certainly enjoy that part
Does it worry me? Yeah, it does in a sense,” Bilcke said. “But it also doesn’t. I’m scared of getting hit too many times, obviously. Would I do it in the NHL and take a couple of blows? For sure. I’ve been telling my dad ever since I was three years old that I want to play in the NHL and I’d play in the NHL any way possible.
Whatever they want me to do, I would do. That’s my dream.
Bilcke ended last season with 37 fights but told the Score, ” I stand by the league’s decision.”