Blog Entry

USA Hockey, Hockey Canada to ban junior fighting?

Posted on: March 1, 2012 1:09 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 1:17 pm
The Rangers' Brandon Prust (right) in a 2004 OHL fight. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

The discussion of fighting in hockey has been ramped up recently for some obvious reasons. Now USA Hockey and Hockey Canada are on the verge of making the biggest statement yet in the discussion to date.

The New York Times reported this week that the two organizations are looking at banning fighting altogether in the junior ranks.

Viewing fighting as a safety issue in light of increasing concussion research, and unwilling to wait for the National Hockey League to propose changes, USA Hockey and Hockey Canada are seriously considering rules that would effectively end fighting in nonprofessional leagues as soon as next season.

The rules would apply to dozens of leagues stretching from near the Arctic Circle to south Texas. Even the three top junior leagues in Canada, major fight-friendly feeder systems to the N.H.L., are considering immediate ways to make fighting a rarity, not an expectation.

“The appetite is there,” said David Branch, the president of the Canadian Hockey League, which oversees the Ontario Hockey League, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Western Hockey League. “The time is certainly right to move forward.”

Talk about a big move. This would have as big an impact as anything in the discussion that continues. These are the leagues that pump the most talent into the NHL. We're talking about the WHL, OHL, QMJHL and USHL among those that this would effect.

It's important to keep in mind that these are players who aren't paid. Chris M. Peters of United States of Hockey notes that is an important distinction to make.

It’s a different story in Junior hockey. These kids don’t get paid (for the most part). While fighting might fill a few seats here and there, the more significant number of people who go to USHL games are families looking to have a little fun at the arena. Maybe it’s different in the Canadian Hockey League, but I’d imagine a good deal of the folks heading to rinks across the little big towns in Canada are going to get a glimpse of future NHL Stars. Whether those future stars knock the snot out of each other is irrelevant to their enjoyment.

Besides, who over the age of 20 would want to admit that the reason they go to Junior hockey games is to watch a 17-year-old get pumped by a 19-year-old?

Peters goes on to note a study that shows that younger brains are actually not prepared to withstand trauma as well as somebody who is older for a variety of reasons, including the strength of their necks.

You don't need me to tell you that fighting is a huge part of junior hockey. But there are a lot of worthwhile points to getting rid of for the junior ranks and that's on the verge of happening. It has already happened at the NCAA and international levels.

There are going to be a lot of people opposed to this, of course. Bruins tough guy Milan Lucic is one who doesn't like the idea. He was known to drop the gloves a time or two in juniors.

“I’m totally against it,” Lucic told The Province on Wednesday.

“I think there will be more injuries because there’d be no fear of fighting. The game will become dirtier. And, for myself, I don’t think I could have made the NHL the way I did without it.”

That might be the case, it might not be. But we might find out soon.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

Category: NHL

Since: Mar 3, 2012
Posted on: March 3, 2012 4:42 pm

USA Hockey, Hockey Canada to ban junior fighting?

Your argument makes me believe you have not been around the
sport of hockey very long. One of the major roles of fighting in this sport is
to allow players to help control and police ourselves through fighting. Getting
hit in the face my cause some damage yes, but what are the odds of that occurring?
I will say slim, now if you and others who claim to be looking out for the best
interests of the game remove this deterrent I would almost bet players will
still police themselves just now using their sticks and more, Marty McSorley on
Donald Brasher, Alex Perezhogin on Garrett Stafford will occur and these incidents
will 100 percent cause injury. Also, if hockey was serious about player safety
and reducing head shots, they wouldn't have changed the rules to discourage
players from hooking and holding players up to minimize contact. The North
American style of hockey was designed to encourage contract that's why it is
played on a smaller rink, the Olympics have a larger sheet of ice to help discourage
or reduce contact. If you want hockey with no fighting I would suggest watching
the Swedish Super league, no fighting at all, they also barely touch each
other. Ever wonders why NHL player personnel people ask "I don't know if
he will be able to adapt to the North American style" when discussing a European
player, it’s because they don't hit, fight and play on a bigger sheet of ice. Hockey needs to teach contact and how to fight not change the rules. Or another option is to adopt the woman's hockey rules and have no contact what so ever...

Since: Feb 4, 2009
Posted on: March 2, 2012 11:21 am

USA Hockey, Hockey Canada to ban junior fighting?

I think thats a great idea to do in junior hockey and they should it do it a long time ago.

Since: Oct 8, 2010
Posted on: March 2, 2012 11:14 am

USA Hockey, Hockey Canada to ban junior fighting?

Ostensibly Nader will claim credit for bringing dirty, nasty neanderthal fighting to the forefront of discussions in the NHL (although it's been a topic for as long as I can remember).  I agree w/ everybody that fighting, as we know it, will most likely be gone from the game in the next decade. Oh sure, there will be an occasional fight but a game misconduct and a one or two game suspension will make it a rare occurrence.  I, for one, will not miss the "enforcer" goon player. And rhetorically: Why waste a roster spot and cap space on a player who neither skates, shoots or understands the nuances of the game?

Since: Nov 17, 2008
Posted on: March 1, 2012 6:11 pm

USA Hockey, Hockey Canada to ban junior fighting?

Fighting in hockey has been an issue for the last 50 years. However, how can a sport say they are serious about reducing head
injuries and allow a player to hit another player in the head multiple times and receive no punishment. (a 5 minute penalty to both teams is no punishment) The game itself is highly entertaining and does not need a sideshow to sell tickets. The best hockey is the Olympics and there is no fighting in the Olympics. I don't notice a high amount of dirty play or stick infractions in that game without fighting.

Since: Jun 25, 2009
Posted on: March 1, 2012 4:12 pm

USA Hockey, Hockey Canada to ban junior fighting?

Right or wrong, hate the idea or love it, as soon as fighting is eliminated from the jrs, it's just a matter of time before the NHL gets rid of it too.   

If and when fighting is eliminated in junior hockey I don't think the NHL will have to do anything but sit back and watch fighting disappear at a rapid rate until it's completely gone, in my opinion that'll happen completely on its own.  The main reason fighting still exists at all in the NHL is because it exists in the junior leagues.  Players in junior hockey that are "enforcers" will no longer have a place in junior hockey, thus will not be drafted or in most cases have a prayer at developing any skills and making the NHL.  Where else would the NHL find their new fighting type players?  Overseas?  Maybe..... but not many come from there. 

I could care less about fighting in the NHL, except for one little problem.  As long as the NHL continues to allow direct head shots on almost a daily if not most certainly on a weekly basis, then fighting has its place in the game because what else can teams do to defend against that?  The instigator penalty has made it more difficult on fighters, but you can't get rid of fighting but still allow the head shots to continue.  

I for one think the NHL has done an awful job when it comes to head shots, dirty and careless plays. The 2500 dollar fines along with the 1 or 2 game suspensions couldn't be more of a joke.

Get rid of head shots and then get rid of fighting.. I'm fine with that.

My team doesn't really know how to fight anyway. Foot in mouth 

Since: Jul 2, 2009
Posted on: March 1, 2012 3:59 pm

USA Hockey, Hockey Canada to ban junior fighting?

I honestly dont know if hockey can afford to get rid of fighting. 

My guess is folks like chicago chet (no disrespect intended) hasnt paid for NHL center Ice, or even gone to a game in awhile.

Point is, you dont have that big of a fan base to begin with, and alot of "casual fans" who dont see the point in it, dont really support it with their $ much anyways. 

BUT there is a group that watches it almost solely for the fighting (or extremly physical play) , much like NASCAR with the crashes.  If you take that group away, I dont know if there is enough money flowing to support having a league.

You get where Im going with this?

Since: Jul 1, 2010
Posted on: March 1, 2012 3:52 pm

USA Hockey, Hockey Canada to ban junior fighting?

Fighting is going away, it's already been eliminated at some levels and in some leagues.   It's just a matter of time.  

Of course current players aren't going to like the idea, they'll be crying about how the game is going to change for the next 60 years and then distort what's actually going right now when they talk about it in their retirement.    It's been tradition in many lines of work for generations.   

Right or wrong, hate the idea or love it, as soon as fighting is eliminated from the jrs, it's just a matter of time before the NHL gets rid of it too.  

Since: Aug 28, 2006
Posted on: March 1, 2012 3:29 pm

USA Hockey, Hockey Canada to ban junior fighting?

Chicago Chet,

I take it that you must have played tennis because you know nothing about the game of hockey which means you should even speak on the subject. So take your sissy butt back to the couch where you belong and watch your tennis.

Since: Dec 29, 2006
Posted on: March 1, 2012 3:20 pm

USA Hockey, Hockey Canada to ban junior fighting?

In any other sport in the world (except boxing) if you throw a punch, you're thrown out of the game. All these hockey dorks that think fighting should stay, don't seem to realize that there are other contact sports and they don't allow fighting.

To say that other cheap injuries will escalate if fighting is disallowed, does not show much confidence in the officiating or the league office to protect the players. It doesn't say much about the players either, to think If I can't punch you anymore, I'll just hit you with my stick? It falls on the players to respect each other and realize if you cheap shot someone and end their career, the same might happen to you. The league currently has a few players in it that should not be allowed to play in the NHL. When players start to get banned from the league for cheap incidents, maybe they will develop respect for each other.

Since: Jan 12, 2007
Posted on: March 1, 2012 2:43 pm

USA Hockey, Hockey Canada to ban junior fighting?

This is ridiculous.  Hockey is a contact sport!  Ban fighting and I guarantee more cheap shots and stickwork that will double the amount of head injuries.  Take a look at the much increased number of head injuries that have come about since the instigator rule was instituted in the early 90s, mostly caused by elbows and sticks.

While they're at it they may as well make it no contact like my men's league...and even then we have concussions from accidental collisions and falling into the boards.  Concussions are a risk in any sport - even golf (could get hit in the head by a bad shot).  Professionals accept the risk of it happening when they sign up (and accept the huge bucks) to play the sport.  If you don't want to take the risk, don't play.

The lawyers who keep driving all the fun out of our sports or even driving out sports all together from lawsuits where usually only they make money is the problem - we need to ban lawyers, not fighting!

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