Hockey Viewing fighting as a safety issue in light of increasing concussion research, and unwilling to wait for the NHL to propose changes, USA Hockey and Hockey Canada are seriously considering rules that would effectively end fighting in nonprofessional leagues as soon as next season, the New York Times reported. The rules would apply to dozens of leagues stretching from near the Arctic Circle to south Texas. Even the three top junior leagues in Canada, major fight-friendly feeder systems to the NHL, are considering immediate ways to make fighting a rarity, not an expectation. “The appetite is there,’’ said David Branch, president of the Canadian Hockey League, which oversees the Ontario Hockey League, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and the Western Hockey League. “The time is certainly right to move forward.’’ USA Hockey’s Junior Council, composed largely of junior-league commissioners, is considering a system like that used in the NCAA, where players are immediately ejected for fighting and progressive suspensions are doled out for subsequent bouts. Fights in college hockey are rare. “A switch has been flipped within the United States to address the fighting issue in junior hockey,’’ said John Vanbiesbrouck, the former NHL goalie who leads USA Hockey’s Junior Council.
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