There has been a lot of talk about the recently implimented 10-fight rule. Some like it and think it will work, while others don't like it all. This week the hot-stove examines and gives their thoughts on the new rule.
While I understand that the 10-fight rule will result in less staged fights, as enforcers now have to pick their spots and can no longer scrap for no purpose, I do not like this new rule for a few reasons.
First off, some teams there are only one or two guys who are willing to stick up for their teammates. Once those guys get in ten fights, or are hovering around that mark, they’ll start to hesitate when it comes to sticking up for their teammates. Other teams will realize this and it will be open season for running opposing teams best players and rookies. Players will suffer injuries, or players that normally wouldn’t want any part of a fight will have to take on someone bigger and/or more experienced in that department just to try and defend themselves.
Another reason I don’t like this rule: enforcers and physical players will start running other players and giving them stick work instead of fighting them and using up one of their ten. This will result in a lot of dirty plays, and probably a fair amount of injuries.
The last reason I’ll list is the fact that several talented players had over ten fights. If you’re a physical player, even if you’re talented, you’ll push ten fights and with enforcers on your team having to drop their totals from let’s say 18 down to 10, there will be times where they can’t fight and someone else has to step in. If you play physical, you’ll probably step in regardless of your talent level thus increasing your fight total.
There are just too many ways to manipulate this rule, in my opinion. If the limit were set a little high, say 15 fights, it would be much better.
Absolutely horrible rule and the effects are already noticeable. Scrums that would usually end in two guys dropping the gloves no longer happen. The scrumming goes on forever but the gloves just stay on. The OHL is going to turn into the Q with long scrums after every whistle.
If the OHL wanted to suspend players for ten instigators, then okay. If they wanted to suspend players for ten fights off of faceoffs, then okay. But ten fights in 68 games is going to take the fighting culture out of the game, and it's not a culture that had anything wrong with it before.
Do I like the newly instilled 10-fight max rule?
No not really. I understand the argument behind it, but I don't like it. Not because I want to see teenagers get beat up, or that I feel hockey would suffer without fighting, but because it’s a part of the game that fans young and old enjoy. Love it or hate it fighting is part of hockey and its not going away. More fans come to see the fights, then stay away because of them. There are jobs to be had at pro levels, be it in the ECHL, AHL or the NHL. Some of the young man that use the OHL as a development league turn what they did in the OHL in to fine livings at these levels because they can dust it up. Players like Marty McSorley with 961 and Bryan Marchment with 926 games played in the NHL. Playing the same game in the NHL as they played in the OHL. What about David Clarkson who isn't a goon as you would say but has turned a tough style, that involves fighting in to a decent NHL career. Same thing could be said for Ben Eager, Cody McCormick, and Cam Janssen all players who have turned there robust style in to NHL jobs playing the same way they did in the OHL.
Fans and Media love the tough guy. "Tough Guys" are our favourite players, they are easily some of the nicest young men in the OHL. Not only can they bring a building back to life win or lose, home or away. They give great interviews, always 1st in line for community events. They always seem to score big goals like playoff OT winners or The "Teddy Bear" goal. These types of players create good rivalries. Both Western and Eastern Conference fans could enjoy Jake Gilmour Vs Cam Janssen. In the NHL Bob Probert Vs Tie Domi, Probert Vs Troy Crowder, all former OHLers. Or how about what a visiting hockey pugilist can do to get a home crowd in a frenzy. I know how the likes of, Brett Clouthier, Patrick Kaleta, Sean McMorrow or Adam Keefe could fire up the Yardman faithful or how David Silverstone could do the same when Belleville was on the road.
To the point I don't like it. I believe it’s a step towards trying to eliminate fighting from hockey and I don’t agree with that. Fans like it, it sells because it’s entertaining, and its part of the game. What happens when kids get close to the magic number of 10 and players start taunting them or taking cheap shots knowing that they wont have to answer the bell? Then what? And really its not like the stars are fighting, its young men who want to fight, fighting other young men who want par take. Rarely do heavyweights jump kids that don't want to fight. One positive, it’s another stat to track.
I have fixed feelings on this. If it eventually leads to a full out ban on fighting, then I believe it can only lead to trouble in other areas. We all know the game is filled with emotion and sometimes players get angry. Without being allowed to drop the gloves in a pure hickey fight, I feel that players may end up taking runs at each other when those emotions run high. Could it lead to more viscous slashes or spears? I believe it can.
If the rule is meant simply to get rid of staged fighting then I'm all for it. So far it seams to have worked through the first 20 games as fighting majors have dropped from last season. The so-called staged fights take away from the game and only slow it down.
The other fear I have is that it will lead to players that don't normally fight to take care of themselves. If a player that doesn't fight gets paired up in an altercation, normally a fighter would come to his defense, or someone who does fight. If that fighter is sitting with 9 majors already, he may think twice about entering the altercation, or at least hesitate enough that his teammate may have to fend for himself. It could also lead to teammates jumping in for a mate that is already at nine games and lead to more after the whistle shoving matches that don't necessarily lead to fights, but slow down the game.
Only time will tell where it leads and early indications are that there won't be any problems, but nobody has reached the no-fight level yet. I'm not as upset as I was 3 or 4 days ago about it though.
I am taking a “wait and see” attitude on the new rule regarding fighting in the OHL. I am opposed to “staged fights” which got to be a bit ridiculous, at times, last season. Fights that occurred in the first shift for enforcers were usually not about that game’s scores. The 10-fight rule should eliminate many of these fights.
If rival teams choose to “pick on” another team’s enforcer, just to goad them into a fight, to get them suspended, then I disagree with the rule. I understand that a fight that was instigated by someone else will not count, but this relies on the ref’s interpretation, which may be a problem, as well. If ‘stick work’ increases as a result then this is obviously an issue, as well. That is, if a player is at 8 or 9 fights, and they become upset, will they choose to use their stick, instead of fighting?
On a philosophical level, isn’t the OHL supposed to train players for the next level. Fighting at higher levels remains an entertaining part of the game, in my opinion. If players don’t learn to fight in Junior, will they be able to in the AHL, or the NHL?
This is a good move by the OHL. The game has evolved in a way that has mitigated the goons over the last decade, especially in this league. Is that because David Branch has been strict with suspensions and implemented rules that have attempted to prevent players from dropping the gloves i.e. penalizing players for removing their helmets for the sole purpose of fighting? Maybe? This is definitely another step in the right direction.
The rule still allows players to defend themselves as a fight will not count against a player’s record if his opponent is assessed the instigator. What I think the rule is intended to do is attempt to eliminate the stated fights. You know those fights where everybody in the arena hears a whistle to stop play and then looks around and find two players on opposite ends of the ice dropping their gloves and heading towards each other? You don’t see them very often anymore, but they still happen the odd time and now players are going to be forced to pick their spots. In my opinion all those tilts do is slow down the game.
With this new rule a player can still fight roughly once every 7 games and stick up for their teammates when they have to, that’s not unfair. But it’s still probably a little more often that it will eventually be. Who is to say that players won’t bank their fights until later in the year or drop the gloves a lot early in the season then shape up once they get their total to a point that could put them in risk of a suspension. I think in the coming years you will see this number decreased. Maybe next year it will be 8 fights for the season and the following year it will be 5.
Let’s face it fights are going to happen, two players are going to get mad and go at it and that should be allowed. Those heat of the moment battles where tempers flare and a couple of players take the rage out on each other are going to happen no matter what and it can be good for the game, it cuts down on the times where somebody takes a number and do something stupid later.
But what I don’t think is healthy for the game is having players do this to often, where there is really no purpose other than try and prove ones worth through toughness. I’m not going to say that I don’t like fisticuffs the odd time or turn away when a couple players drop their gloves, but I’m not naïve and realize that there are times the sport doesn’t need it. Let’s face it is 2012 and the game has changed, fighting is a part of hockey just not every night.
While I commend the OHL for attempting to take a stand against a growing fighting problem within the league, this "ten fight rule" is clearly not the answer. Instead of eliminating all of the unnecessary staged fighting that occurs after nearly every goal, as well as after every faceoff in most 3rd periods around the league, Branch and his cronies have decided to simply punish the repeat offenders.
The results are predictable. As players get closer to ten fights on the season, they will be far less likely to drop the mitts, and as they reach 8 or 9 fights on the season, they will be helpless. Helpless to defend a teammate who is being unfairly provoked into a fight, be it a star player or rookie 16 year old, and helpless to defend themselves after they become a target for the opposition.
Once these players have nine or more fights on the year, their hands are tied. Let's take a look at an example. It's March. Kitchener and Guelph are battling for home advantage, and play each other twice in the final two weeks of the season. Would it not make sense for those teams to target players with nine or more fights in the first meeting, knowing that they will wind up suspended for their next meeting, when playoff position will likely be decided?
This rule serves only one purpose, and that is to make the OHL executive members APPEAR as though they are trying to stop fighting, without actually taking proper steps to eliminate all the needless fights. The added fact that this rule was dropped on the players the day before the season begins, with no consultation with the players, is exactly why so many of them feel that they need a CHLPA watching out for them. It's clear that their Commissioner doesn't feel the players worthy of having an opinion.