New rule change in the OHL means well, but won’t work

Alex Pepke, Sports Editor

The Ontario Hockey League (OHL) may be playing a different style of hockey this season. A style without body checking.

Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s Minister of Sport, announced that the OHL’s shortened 40-game season, starting on Feb. 4, will be a season without any body checking.

My first reaction is… how?

The OHL is a major junior hockey league that consistently pumps out NHL draft picks and prospects. How do these players play legitimate games of hockey with no body checking?

I understand the intent of the rule change because of COVID-19, but I don’t see how this happens without dramatically changing the games, and not in a good way.

What happens when the puck is in the corner? Is one team supposed to back off and let the other team get the puck?

Contact is unavoidable in high-level hockey games and without it, the quality of play will look completely different.

The OHL needs to play games this season. It doesn’t benefit from the same level of revenue and profit that the National Hockey League (NHL) does.

This just isn’t the way to do it.

The rule sounds great in theory, but in reality, it is a mess.

How are the refs supposed to handle this? Are they going to stop play or call a penalty every time a player gets hit? The reaction to this rule change has been mostly negative. Most don’t like it.

I see what they are trying to do, but the league will not be able to implement this rule without the quality of play suffering severely.

The Erie Otters, Erie’s hometown team, is one of three teams in the league not located in Ontario. Any Erie residents hoping to see the same type of hockey they’ve seen in the past will be in for a surprise this year.

Some are still trying to find a better solution than no body checking, such as stricter team protocols and more testing.

But as of now, fans of the OHL and the Otters should prepare to see a much different, less physical style of play.


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