Fighting is on its way out of hockey, and the BCHL is helping to quicken its demise
At its recent AGM, the junior A league approved stricter penalties for fisticuffs. Starting next season, a player will receive supplemental discipline on their second fight, where the previous standard gave players four fights before they’d see any consequences.
Penalties will increase with each fight, and players will be subjected to one-on-one calls with the BCHL’s Department of Player Safety.
The league says there will be zero-tolerance for instigator and aggressor penalties. Both will receive suspensions on the first offense and will significantly increase with additional transgressions.
“As a leader of developing college-bound student athletes, we feel this is a progressive step for the BCHL,” said Steve Cocker, the league’s Executive Director, Competition and Events. “The safety of our players is an integral part of any decision we make as a league and a stronger stance on fighting and zero-tolerance on instigators and aggressors is a great step forward. The game continues to evolve and move in the direction of speed and skill and we want to be on the forefront of that movement.”
Cocker said the league will revisit the measures after next season to see how effective they were.
The BCHL has also introduced specific wording to address hits that come from outside of a player’s line of sight. Any hit that occurs from a player’s blindside, meaning outside a 90-degree angle of their line of vision, with significant force, will be called charging. Addressing this type of hit with a minor, major and game misconduct or match penalty will allow the league to review a hit for further discipline.
The BCHL is also imposing stricter penalties and supplemental discipline on slew-footing penalties. Slew-footing will now be categorized with clipping and kneeing as an accumulation category. Any player who commits a slew foot will be assessed a four-minute double minor penalty or a match penalty, depending on the severity of the incident as determined by the referee. An automatic match penalty will be assessed when an injury occurs due to a slew foot.
In the non-rule book related section, it is now mandatory for each team to have a portable defibrillator on hand in case of an emergency involving a player or team staff member. Trainers will be required to carry one for every game, practice and team event.
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