In a move that may preempt the NHL doing something similar, the OHL has announced its rule changes for the upcoming season and for fighting fans – you won’t like it.
Along with changes to the icings and instituting a “blindside hit rule”, which will see a penalty be assessed if a player is checked from “the blindside” (a determination that is in the referee’s discretion), the league will now lower their fighting suspension threshold from ten to just three per season. Once a player is involved in three fights, each following major will incur an automatic two-game suspension.
In 2012-13, the league instituted the policy, with the threshold being placed at ten fights. Since then, fights league-wide have decreased by almost half. While the NHL wouldn’t make the same drastic change, for fear of upsetting part of its fanbase, installing these rules at the junior level will effectively end the development and encouragement of fighters as they move through the ranks.
Last season according to hockeyfights.com, only four players fought at least 10 times. Compare that to just five years ago, when 38 players passed that threshold, the leader, George Parros, dropping the gloves a whopping 27 times. While the Maple Leafs rewarded known scrapper Matt Martin with a four-year deal this offseason it was because he’s known as a player who can contribute, at least a little bit, while also “protecting” his teammates. The days of the enforcer are over, and with moves like today’s rule changes, they’re sure to never return.