Earlier this fall, the Canada's Junior A member leagues endorsed a measure that would see the rules governing fights changed so an offender would face an automatic ejection. A report in the New York Times Wednesday night suggests that USA Hockey is considering a proposed amendment to Rule 614 of its rulebook, which currently states that "A major penalty shall be assessed to any player who engages in fighting."
The proposed change enacts 25 amendments to the current rule, most notably enforcing the current international and NCAA standard for fights, where any fighting major is also accompanied by a game ejection.
The new rule would punish all fighters with automatic ejection from the game, and instigators with an automatic two-game suspension. It would also give referees more latitude in making decisions to eject players.
The measure will be presented at the organization’s winter meetings Jan. 16-19 in Orlando, Fla. It could be voted on then or at USA Hockey’s annual congress in June. The rule could take effect as early as next season.
“USA Hockey needs to adopt the Junior A hockey rule change proposal at the winter meeting in January,” said Stuart, a Mayo Clinic orthopedic surgeon and concussion expert with three sons who have played in the N.H.L. “I look forward to a healthy debate with anyone who feels that fighting has a role in a game played by amateur student-athletes.” [NY Times]
Currently, the USA Hockey system bans fighting in lower-tiered junior leagues as well as college hockey. The Junior A system, which includes the United States Hockey League and North American Hockey League, is the only level in the system where fighting is tolerated with the National Hockey League standard.
Jeff Klein, the writer of the story, attended and reported at a summit on fighting in hockey at the Mayo Clinic in October. That was just days after George Parros's unfortunate collision with the ice during a fight led him to be taken off the ice on a stretcher, sullying the NHL's opening night buzz. Hall of Fame goaltender Ken Dryden spoke at the summit about the mounting evidence of the danger of brain trauma resulting from concussions. Since then, stories have circulated surrounding issues with brain injuries long after the end of the careers of former, popular enforcers like Scott Parker and Gino Odjick. Odjick said that he's spent 32 months in hospital since his retirement from the game in 2002.Read More »from USA Hockey to consider proposal for anti-fight rules in Junior A leagues