All 3 leagues hit the ice Thursday and there are changes from coast to coast; Stiffer penalties, suspension and freedom for goalies stand out to me.
The Western Hockey League is cracking down on 'staged fights' this season by handing out game misconducts for any fight that happen immediately after a face off. Will guys skate around for 30 seconds now before fighting? Who knows but Ron Robison told me today that fighting was down 10% last year. It's interesting that the instigator is the only one that gets kicked out in a staged fight.
You know some guys will try and draw a player into it and then turtle; should be interesting to watch. I don't think that this is a bad thing; 90% of the best fights happen from a reaction that sparks a bru-ha-ha.
|Photo: Andy Devlin|
In the Ontario Hockey League, fighters better be able to count to ten as after they chuck knuckles a 10th time in a season, suspensions kick in. According to Neate Sager of Yahoo! Sports, there were 31 players that had at least ten fights last season. It's 2 games for fights 11-15 and 2 games and a $1000 fine to the team for the 16th fight and each one beyond.
|Photo: Peter Lee|
Meanwhile in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League they are allowing goaltenders to roam the entire area behind the net, snipping the trapezoid area. I love this rule. I think it's a true skill for certain goalies to craft. Some should stay in the crease but others have made themselves that much more valuable to NHL teams. Just like in the big show, teams can no longer change after icing the puck. I wonder how long this would take.
I asked WHL Commissioner Ron Robison today what would happen at the Memorial Cup with different rules across the three leagues. The host league's rules prevail meaning Q league goalies will have to re-learn the trapezoid in Saskatoon this May.