SBD/February 28, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Hockey Canada, USA Hockey Weighing Rules To Curb Fighting In Many Non-Pro Leagues

USA Hockey and Hockey Canada “are seriously considering rules that would effectively end fighting in nonprofessional leagues as soon as next season,” according to a front-page piece by John Branch of the N.Y. TIMES. Even the “three top junior leagues in Canada, major fight-friendly feeder systems to the NHL, are considering immediate ways to make fighting a rarity, not an expectation.” The increased recognition of the “long-term dangers of brain trauma, across all sports, has forced hockey’s leaders to consider ways to reduce blows to the head.” Most leaders believe that “rules to deter fighting will be significantly stiffened during organization-wide meetings this summer.” Hockey Canada President & CEO Bob Nicholson said, “The official stance from Hockey Canada is that we want to get rid of fighting as quickly as we can.” For decades, “debates centered on whether hockey could survive without fighting.” But lately the talk is “about how long the sport can live with fighting.” USA Hockey’s Junior Council in January “discussed emergency legislation that would combat fighting with much harsher penalties, starting as early as next fall.” The council “may propose a system like that used in the NCAA, where players are immediately ejected for fighting and progressive suspensions are doled out for subsequent bouts.” Proposed changes would be “subject to the vote of USA Hockey’s board of directors, which could come in June.” Branch notes the NHL and most pro minor leagues in North America “have shown little appetite for altering rules to reduce fights” (N.Y. TIMES, 2/28).
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