The Ontario Hockey League has updated its officiating roster and made some minor modifications to the rulebook – now available for download – for the 2016-17 season.

From the OHL:

At its annual league meeting, the Ontario Hockey League Board of Governors took further steps in addressing player safety through the adoption of a “Blindside Hit Rule” whereby there will be a penalty assessed for those players who check an opponent from the blindside.  Based on the discretion of the referee, a minor, major and game misconduct or match penalty may be assessed. Such infraction would also be subject to review and possible supplementary discipline by the league.

The blindside rule, as per the 2016-17 OHL rulebook:

Rule 41B – Blindsiding

48.1 Blindsiding – The act of checking an opponent from the “blindside”. If a player checks an opponent with significant force who is reaching fro a loose puck (the opponent is therefore considered vulnerable), it shall be calssified as charging or interference.

48.2 Minor Penalty – A minor penalty shall be assessed to any player who checks an opponent from the “blindside”.

48.3 Major plus Game Misconduct Penalty – At the discretion of the referee and based on the degree of violence a major penalty and a game misconduct can be assessed any player who checks an opponent from the “blindside”.

48.4 Match Penalty – A match penalty shall be assessed to any player who deliberately attempts to injure an opponent by checking him from the “blindside”.

Note: Blindside shall be defined as a lateral or back pressure hit to an unsuspecting and / or vulnerable opponent.

In addition, the league took further steps to address fighting in the game by lowering the threshold prior to automatic disciplinary action being assessed from 10 fights per player per season to three fights per player per season. Players exceeding such threshold will be subject to an automatic two game suspension, for each fight exceeding the threshold.

Note: If a player is instigated upon, the fighting major is not included in the player’s total number of fights.

Since the adoption of the 10 fight threshold for the 2012-2013 season, the league has seen the number of fights in the league decrease by 49.5% and for the last two seasons have not had a single player with more than 10 fights based on the threshold criteria established.

“As the number one development league in the world for the NHL and CIS, the OHL continually challenges ourselves to improve the on-ice environment and evolve the game for the benefit of the most important people in our game, our players,” said David Branch, OHL Commissioner.

The league has made an adjustment to its icing rule (81.1) in adopting the current NHL hybrid icing.

The OHL also made a minor change to the Delay of Game rule (63.2) concerning pucks over glass, adopting the new NHL standard of determining location based on that of the puck and not of the player’s skates at the time the puck was shot out of play.

Download the complete OHL rulebook and check out the 2016-17 OHL referees and linesmen