Top Level Canadian Junior Hockey League Bans Fighting, Hockey World Mourns

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Is this the beginning of the end for chuckin’ knucks?: The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has announced its plans to ban fighting.

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.

*Sarah McLachlan music plays over a montage of hockey fights*

The QMJHL — Along with the Ontario Hockey League and the Western Hockey League — is one of three leagues that make up the Canadian Hockey League. This is the top level of junior hockey in Canada, and if we’re being honest, the world (sorry USHL).

Players in the league typically range from about 16 through their early twenties.

“The QMJHL is planning to have a rule in place that will ban fighting, making it black and white that it is no longer a part of our game,” a league spokesperson said told The Hockey News. “The punishments have not been decided as of yet. We will be looking to have a rule in place in June when the next general annual assembly of the members of the board of governors takes place.”

This isn’t the first time the league has done something to curtail on-ice pugilism. In 2020, they added a mandatory 10-minute misconduct penalty to every 5-minute fighting penalty. That looks pretty badass on the score sheet, but in reality, it hurts the team

But what would a story in Canada be without some government overreach?

QMJHL game
From the sound of it, this sort of rough stuff would still be legal in the QMJHL. (Photo by Dale Preston/Getty Images)

Quebec Minister Of Sports Steered The League To End Fighting

According to The Hockey News, Quebec’s minister of sports, recreation, and outdoors, Isabelle Charest gave the league $20 million in COVID pandemic relief, if they did something to get rid of fighting. That was in 2020, just before the league added those 10-minute misconducts.

While a ban on fighting is a bummer, there’s no denying that fighting is on its way out. Team rosters are built differently with speed and finesse favored over fist-throwing. Why burn a roster spot on an enforcer when you could have another guy to put the puck in the net?

But if fighting is on the decline anyway, why do you need to make a rule to ban it, and why let the government strong-arm you into doing it? Just leave fighting on the books and if its decline continues it’ll work itself out of the game.

We’ll have to see if the other leagues follow suit (the WHL has had a reputation as the toughest league, so I’m going to guess the answer is no). However, they do have their own stricter rules for fighting.

The OHL allows three fights per season. After that, it’s a two-game suspension after each one. In the WHL, a player who takes off their or their opponent’s helmet gets a misconduct penalty. The idea here is safety and making a would-be fighter second guess whether they want to punch a hard CCM helmet a bunch of times.

Follow on Twitter: @Mattt_Reigle

Written by Matt Reigle

Matt is a University of Central Florida graduate and a long-suffering Philadelphia Flyers fan living in Orlando, Florida. He can usually be heard playing guitar, shoe-horning obscure quotes from The Simpsons into conversations, or giving dissertations to captive audiences on why Iron Maiden is the greatest band of all time.

One Comment

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  1. The Olympics have banned fighting forever, and it’s hardly hurt the game. In fact, Olympic hockey is some of the best. And there’s rarely fighting in the playoffs, either.

    Let’s be honest – hockey fights are lame. If I want to see a fight, I’ll go to a boxing match or MMA. I go to hockey to see hockey. It’s a rough sport regardless – a bone-jarring check will always be part of the game.

    But the fights are just plain stupid.

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