The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has nearly made it through the entire preseason without a single fight, which is exactly what the league expected.
The QMJHL made a number of changes for the 2023-24 season in the interest of player safety, the most notable of which looks to eliminate fighting. Previously, fighting in the Q would get you a major penalty for fighting plus a 10-minute misconduct. This season, a fight will get you ejected. Subsequent fights will result in automatic suspensions.
“There’s a bit more of an emphasis on the fighting situation,” QMJHL referee Tanner Doiron told the CBC. “I guess you could say there’s more of an emphasis for us, too … to ensure we have clear focus on a fighting situation and understanding what really took place, what really happened. But … I think we’re ready for the challenge.”
From the Q’s safety regulations:
In order to prevent physical and psychological violence that may result in minor or serious injury or, in extreme circumstances, death, the QMJHL is responsible for establishing rules of intervention when a fight occurs between two or more people during a game.
Rule 47 of the Playing Rules, starting with the 2023-2024 season, provides for fights being prohibited with more restrictive and dissuasive sanctions in order to emphasize a safe quality of play conducive to the development of players participating in QMJHL activities.
As soon as a fight occurs, those engaged must be systematically ejected from the game.
Any player found to have instigated the fight will also receive an automatic one-game suspension.
The person declared to be the aggressor during the fight will receive a minimum of two automatic games of suspension.
In addition to the game misconduct, an automatic game suspension is imposed starting with the player’s 2nd fight of the season.
Officials – like the players – are getting used to the new rules during the preseason.
“We’re being directed to employ every means necessary under these new rules to stop brawling and stop fighting and kind of use that game misconduct penalty for this purpose,” Doiron added. “It should be interesting.”
While fighting is banned in the QMJHL and NCAA Hockey, players in Canada’s Ontario Hockey League and Western Hockey League can still drop the gloves… for now.