JC Lipon (left) and Josh Caron led the Kamloops Blazers last season with nine fights each. New Ontario Hockey League rules might make players think twice about dropping the gloves. Not all of the Blazers are on the same page, when it comes to how they feel about the laws.
Blazers weigh in on OHL fighting laws
By Marty Hastings - Kamloops This Week
Published: September 24, 2012 4:00 PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 4:43 PM
The Ontario Hockey League’s new fighting rules are garnering differing opinions on Mark Recchi Way.
Kamloops Blazers assistant coach Ed Patterson likes the rule, designed to curb fighting and, especially, staged bouts.
“It should be team toughness that counts, not one guy doing it for the whole team,” Patterson said.
“There are no guys anymore that can’t play and sit on the bench and fight. Why support something that’s not in today’s game?”
The rules will see players suspended once they exceed the 10-fight mark and further repercussions to the club once they hit 16 tilts. Being the instigator will increase the amount of games the player is suspended. (The rules are printed on page A23 in their entirety.)
JC Lipon and the departed Josh Caron led the Blazers with nine fights last season, meaning none of the Blazers — should the WHL have enforced the OHL’s new laws — would have been punished by the league.
In fact, the Blazers had 40 fewer fights last season, with 56, than in the 2010-2011 campaign.
Blazer forward Chase Souto disagrees with his coach’s opinion on the OHL’s laws.
“I think it’s a joke,” said Souto, who hails from Yorba Linda, Calif.
“There are guys that have their role to do that.
“If they’re goons about it, I can understand that, but we don’t really have those type of players in the league anymore.”
Nashville Predators’ tough guy Brian McGrattan, who fought six times last season, sides with Souto.
“feel sorry for those kids that cant fight in junior and are gonna have to learn the hard way in pro gettin their head punched in,” he posted on Twitter.
There were 28 WHL players who eclipsed the 11-fight mark last season, with Spokane Chief Darren Kramer, who fought 26 times, leading the way.
Lipon is not strongly for or against the rule, but he does think fighting has a place in hockey.
“I like those character guys that fight 20 or more times a year,” he said.
“That will probably be missed.”
Staged fights don’t have a place in the game, added Lipon.
“If I’m going to fight a guy, it’s for a reason, not just, ‘Hey, wanna go?’
“I usually do it through emotion.”
Colin Campbell, the NHL’s senior vice-president and director of hockey operations, said he will be keeping a close eye on the effectiveness of the new rules.
“They [the CHL] talk to us when they make rule changes like this,” Campbell told ESPN.com.
“We’ve discussed the aspect of fighting over the years. We had a couple of initial discussions about this last spring. They were thinking about implementing some sort of quota. I mentioned to him we had debated that internally in hockey operations at the NHL level.”
There were 546 fights in 1,230 regular-season NHL games last season, the lowest tally in five years, according to hockeyfights.com.
Still, if the NHL was operating last season under the OHL’s rules, 18 players would have been punished for dropping the gloves too many times.
Brandon Prust and Shawn Thornton topped the list with 20 fights each in the 2011-2012 campaign.
While the Blazers KTW interviewed had differing opinions on limiting fighting, none liked the idea of completely banning scraps.
“If there were a ban? I wish I could go on strike, but I couldn’t do that,” Souto said.
“It really does have a purpose. When we’re down three goals, it’s to fire the boys up.
“If they took it out completely, I think that’s ruining the sport.”
OHL fighting rules
— If a player is assessed a fighting major for the 11th to 15th time during the regular season, such player is assessed an automatic two-game suspension for each additional fighting major, in addition to any other penalties assessed.
— If a player is assessed a fighting major for the 16th time or more during the regular season, such player is assessed an automatic two-game suspension and the hockey club is fined $1,000 for each additional fighting major, in addition to any other penalties assessed.
— If a player is deemed to be the instigator in any of the fights above the 10-game threshold, such player would be assessed an automatic four-game suspension, in addition to any other penalties assessed.