OHL Beats NHL To The Punch – New Rule

Christopher Ralph is THW’s prospect and draft analyst.

OHL has implemented a new rule to help curb staged fights. Basically, if a fight occurs off at the drop of the puck at start of game or period, player gets auto ejection and 1 game suspension.

From OHL’s official website:

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced a new playing rule that will come into effect with the commencement of games on Friday, November 26, 2010.

The rule, which is an extension of the league’s ongoing efforts to remove needless elements from the game was approved by the league Governors at a meeting this past Monday.

The new rule is….“If two or more players should enter into a fight, prior to, or at the drop of the puck at the commencement of any period of a game, then such player(s) shall be assessed an automatic game misconduct in addition to any penalties assessed, the OHL Member Team shall be fined $500.00 and the player(s) suspended for one (1) game.  For any subsequent offence by the same team, the fine shall increase in $500.00 increments, and for any subsequent offence by the same player the minimum suspension would double from the previous occurrence.”

As CBC Sports notes: “NHL general managers suggested a rule designed to curb staged fights in March 2008, but it never got past the league’s competition committee.”

Dave Pollard of Canoe.ca reported:

Laraque & Chara Do Battle {Dan4th-Flickr}

The OHL is the second of the three leagues that fall under the Canadian Hockey League umbrella to institute a rule of this nature.

The Western Hockey League has been using a similar rule — the team fines are $250 and go up incrementally and coaches can potentially be suspensed if it happens repeatedly — since 2008-09, but the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has not yet made the change. The WHL rule includes harsher penalties than the one brought in by the OHL.

In March of 2009, Dan Rosen of NHL.com stated:

Campbell confirmed that the League will propose a rule change to the Competition Committee regarding “staged” fights. The League wants a stiffer penalty for players who fight directly off a faceoff, which they determined that in most instances is a staged fight.

Instead of receiving the normal 5-minute major, the proposal is to tack on a 10-minute misconduct penalty to anybody who fights off a faceoff in hopes the stiffer result will begin to phase staged fights out of the game.

According to League data accumulated in early February, 21.6 percent of fights this season  (2008-09) have come directly off the faceoff. That’s a 30 percent increase in fights off faceoffs over the last eight years.

Also in March 2009, Darren Dreger of TSN was the first to relay that Georges Laraque was not such a fan of these recommendations:

“All of their recommendations are a joke!” Laraque charged after reading the NHL’s plans on TSN.ca.

“Stupidest thing ever!” Laraque told TSN. “I think it’s a joke. They might as well take fighting out of the NHL…fighting won’t be safer; it will be eliminated because an added 10 minute misconduct is too much.”

The referee will determine whether a fight qualifies as “staged”, and Laraque insists this rule adjustment will eliminate jobs: “This will take the one-dimensional player out of the NHL because that’s who they will say starts a staged fight.”

Laraque says NHL enforcers, who are often used to try and change the momentum of a game, will be forced out. “Why even bother showing up for training camp?,” Laraque questioned.

Laraque says he has been told by (then) NHLPA Executive Director Paul Kelly that he will be involved in a discussion panel on fighting to promote a safer environment.

“Bottom line, I don’t agree with what they are recommending,” Laraque said. “No one in that meeting does it (fights) for a living. Why am I not there, or Boogaard, or a player who this is directly going to impact?”

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Christopher Ralph


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