Two months after Dylan Chanter, an 18-year-old defensemen in the USHL, suffered an on-ice seizure after hitting his head on the ice following a fight, USA Hockey's board of directors are set to consider a proposal that would ban fighting at all levels of amateur hockey in the United States.
"We need to take a firm stand to preserve our sport, prevent catastrophic injury and avoid financial repercussions," Dr. Michael J. Stuart, chief medical officer for USA Hockey told the New York Times this week.
Youth hockey leagues in the United States already have rules in place to eliminate fighting, including immediate ejections and automatic suspensions for instigators. The only level it is still allowed is the Junior A level, which includes the USHL and NAHL. The proposed rule would be similar to the ones already in place in lower levels and would involve automatic ejections and suspensions.
The increased penalties for fighting in the measure before USA Hockey include several provisions. A goalie who crosses the center red line during a fight would be classed as an instigator, resulting in an automatic two-game suspension. Players would be given match penalties, carrying multiple-game suspensions, "in every instance when the aggressor is attempting to inflict punishment or injury to the opponent." A player who removes his helmet to fight would also get an automatic two-game suspension, and if he removes his opponent’s helmet he would get an automatic multiple-game ban.
The proposal will be presented at USA Hockey's winter meetings in mid-January, while the new rules could be put into place as early as next season.
USHL commissioner Skip Prince also told the Times that his league is "willing to look at the whole continuum with regard to penalties for fighting, from a five-minute major all the way to the automatic two-game suspension."
The Canadian junior leagues have also taken steps to help curb fighting over the years, including the OHL's recent rule change that would punish players that take part in more than 10 fights per season.