Taking a cue from its western Canadian counterpart, the OHL will introduce a new rule on Friday, aimed at wiping out what it refers to as staged fighting among its players.
The major-junior hockey league's board of governors is vowing to get tough with those who fight before or at the start of a game or period by handing out automatic one-game suspensions to those involved.
Players who continue to fight in future games will face increased bans for infractions as will teams, which will face fines that will begin at $500 for the first infraction.
The WHL was the first to implement such a rule, beginning for the 2008-09 season.
Ted Baker, the vice-president of the OHL, spoke about the reasons why the league decided to adopt such a new rule.
WHAT IS THE IMPETUS BEHIND THE NEW RULE?
"We always challenge ourselves as a league to look at the elements of our game that ideally we would like to remove. Staged fights, and those fights that occur at the commencement of a period or a game, are those that have no place in our game."
SOME BELIEVE THAT WILLING COMBATANTS WILL NOW JUST WAIT UNTIL THE FIRST FACEOFF BEFORE DROPPING THEIR GLOVES. WHAT IS THE LEAGUE'S VIEW?
"At the end of the day fighting, whether you like it or not, is part of the game. There are penalties assessed for those players who want to engage in a fight. We have done a focus group with a number of our players last year and one of the things we had heard is players were setting up fights prior to games. We just felt that that had no place in our game."
DID THE OHL CONSIDER A BROADER RULE THAT WOULD PROHIBIT FIGHTING OUTRIGHT?
"Not at this particular time. There was no consideration given other than just specifically the fights at the beginning of periods or a game, which we would deem as premeditated. There was no other discussion."
"I think at this particular time this was the approach that the league and the board of governors chose to take. There may be a day in the future that it is more expansive, but that has not been discussed."
WHAT EFFECT DOES THE LEAGUE HOPE THE NEW RULE WILL HAVE?
"That players will understand that there is to be no premeditated fights. Since the Western Hockey League has adopted a similar rule I think they've had one fight. When you're sitting down to watch a game the last thing you want I to see, I suggest, is a fight break out for no sense at all. There's no passion with a pre-meditated fight. It has nothing to do with the game. And that is the type of senseless act that really we need to eliminate."
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