Fighting restrictions will tighten in BCHL

Fighting majors will soon carry automatic game misconducts in the junior A BCHL.

The Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) board of directors has overwhelmingly voted to support an automatic game misconduct for fighting.

The new one-fight rule will be endorsed as the national standard for all 10 Canadian junior A circuits.

The BCHL is one of five leagues who have followed a more relaxed standard. In the BCHL, a player has been given five minutes for fighting, but no game misconduct.

A BCHL player must fight twice in the same game to get booted.

CJHL president Kirk Lamb will be delighted to see that change, starting in the 2014-15 season.

“The co-operation among our leagues and partners for standardized fighting rules and consistent discipline guidelines across all junior A leagues is a significant step in the continuing development and evolution of the CJHL and junior A hockey in Canada,” he said. “We will work closely with our stakeholders and key partners, such as Hockey Canada and provincial branches, on bringing these endorsements forward for consideration.”

In addition to the one-fight rule, the CJHL is also endorsing, in principle, a comprehensive set of minimum discipline guidelines based on a four-year pilot project called the Junior A Supplement.

The program was designed and implemented in the BCHL, AJHL (Alberta), SJHL (Saskatchewan), MJHL (Manitoba) and MHL (Maritimes).

The Junior A Supplement is a thorough document that, in addition to fighting, covers other infractions like blows to the head, checks from behind, dangerous hits and goaltender interference. The document lays out minimum suspension lengths for each offense. For instance, a major penalty for a blow to the head automatically sidelines a player for at least two games, and a match penalty carries a minimum three game suspension.

The Junior A Supplement has been an invaluable game management tool,” said BCHL commissioner John Grisdale. “We have experienced a significant change in the culture of our game and player behavior and are enjoying the benefits of enhanced communication and education among players, coaches and officials.”

The Junior A Supplement provides a consistent supplemental discipline guidelines across the country and arms junior A leagues with additional tools to help manage many aspects of our game,” added CCHL (Central Canada) commissioner Kevin Abrams. “As a league dedicated to the development of student-athletes, we continuously evaluate new rules and regulations to make the game more enjoyable and safer for our players and more exciting and entertaining for our fans.”