Let me preface this by saying that I love a good, clean fight in the game of hockey and firmly believe there is a place in the game for that fight. Growing up as a child, my parents would watch any game that was on television, but if my favorite team wasn’t playing I had no interest. Well, almost.

When a fight broke out, they would yell to me “fight” and I dropped whatever toy I was playing with and bolted for the tube. Even today with modern television, where you can watch multiple games at once, if a fight breaks out I quickly enlarge that screen to take it all in.

But I was never in favour of, nor liked the staged fight – one where players would face each other before a face off and wait until the puck hit the ice so that they could drop their mitts. The Ontario Hockey League put a rule in place where any players involved in a staged fight at the beginning of a period would automatically receive a game misconduct along with any other penalties. Yesterday, they changed that rule to include after any faceoff during any point of the game.

There are those that may believe that the OHL is trying to remove fighting from the game, and in my opinion that couldn’t be further than the truth. The OHL has an obligation to try and protect what for the most part, are still kids and a stage fight is nothing but just that – staged – and an injury during a staged fight is something no one wants to see. There are others that will argue that the fight is used to change momentum, but statistics show, that it rarely has an effect on the game.

The OHL also reduced the number of fights a player can have during a game from three to two before receiving a game misconduct. I’m not entirely in favour of this one. If a player has already been involved in one fight during a game and the opposition starts taking liberties with his teammates where a fight can be a deterrent, will that looming game misconduct make him think twice about it? Quite possibly, and it may just be the star players that pay the price.

The final fighting rule change is that teams will be limited to three fighting majors in any one game. A fine will be assessed to the team for surpassing three. For the same reasons as above, I’m not in favour of this move either.

Other rule changes:

”  If a player receives a fourth minor penalty during the regular season in any one of the following categories, ie., checking from behind, checking to the head, kneeing, clipping or boarding, he shall receive a one (1) game suspension.  For each subsequent minor penalty in any of the particular categories, the suspension shall be increased accordingly.”

I’m not sure how the league came up with the number four, but they have to start somewhere. This is long overdue in my opinion. If a player receives any one of these penalties four times in a season, even without causing injury, then there is a problem there because the next one could just be the one to cause an injury. I would have preferred seeing it set at three penalties.

And finally:

“If a player receives a third game misconduct during the season for a combination of any 5 minute major and game misconduct penalties for checking to the head, checking from behind, boarding, kneeing and clipping, for  which suspensions have not previously been applied, he shall receive an automatic one (1) game suspension.  For each subsequent game misconduct, the suspension shall be increased accordingly.”

I’m not sure I get this at all. If a player receives a five minute major and a game misconduct for a hit to the head and the league doesn’t suspend that player (remember this applies to majors and misconducts for which suspensions have not previously been applied) is the league not basically admitting that they see it differently than the referee did that night and it probably shouldn’t have been a major penalty?

The OHL hasn’t explained this to my liking very well. Will they rescind the penalty? Will there be an appeals process? And if they rescind a penalty, how do you explain it to fans if their team loses a game because of that penalty?

I’m all for standardized suspensions and this is a step in the right direction. It just hasn’t gone far enough.