Chilliwack Chief fans who like to see hockey players drop their gloves and go toe-to-toe may increasingly be out of luck as the league's governing body has moved to ban fighting.
The board of directors of the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL)—the organization made up of all 10 Junior A hockey leagues in the country—has "overwhelmingly" voted in favour of the so-called one-fight rule.
The controversial rule, currently used in five of the 10 leagues but not the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), gives players who fight an automatic game misconduct penalty in addition to the standard five-minute major penalty.
In the BCHL and four other leagues a player is ejected automatically after the second fight.
Chiefs coach Harvey Smyl told the Times he did not agree with the one-fight rule since the league has already been adhering to a supplementary discipline policy that cracks down on a number of actions such as staged fights and retaliatory fights.
"It eliminates a lot of the fighting that does happen, that should not be part of the game," Smyl said Thursday.
"I don't see us having that problem [with too many fights] right now. Our team doesn't have a whole lot of fights."
In April 2012, BCHL commissioner John Grisdale was in Chilliwack and he, too, expressed opposition to the one-fight rule.
"[W]e feel fighting is only one aspect and throwing a player out after one fight may not be what's best for the game," he said at the time.
Asked why players should not be ejected after a single game, Grisdale said: "Players will retaliate in other ways: maybe using their stick and other matters if they feel they've been aggrieved. Our feeling is having that threat of having to drop your gloves and fight is not necessarily the worst thing in the world."
Smyl agreed with the latter statement.
"It eliminates a lot of the good hardworking hockey, the physical type of play. There is more stickwork. Guys become more, I don't know, guys become more stupid and it leads to a different style of hockey."
A year ago Grisdale said the supplementary discipline policy had already eliminated the "things that 99 per cent of the fans don't want to see" such as multiple fights and staged fights.
According to hockeyfights.com, the Chilliwack Chiefs had 33 fights in 2012-13. Tanner Cochrane's five tilts led the way, followed by Brodyn Nielsen's four, and three each for David Thompson, Jaret Babych, Kiefer McNaughton and Tanner Burns.
Of those fights, Smyl said supplementary discipline already takes care of the bad ones, and of the 33, "probably 10 were not real fights."
Grisdale was unavailable to comment on the CJHL decision Thursday.
Whether or not the one-fight rule will be in place for 2014/2015 is not entirely certain as CJHL president Kirk Lamb told the Times the decision will first be brought forward to Hockey Canada.
"Timing of implementation of rules can't be determined until that discussion takes place with all of our partners," he said via email.
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