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Fighting in the OHL continues to be on the decline

The Guelph Storm has had only three fights this season
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The Guelph Storm has had three fights this season, as noted goons Mason Primeau, Mark Woolley and Nate Schnarr have all dropped the gloves.

Ten years ago that would have been the last 10 minutes of the third period in a one-sided game.

At their current pace the team would clearly hit an all-time low, which was the 18 fights the team had last year.

According to hockeyfights.com and dropyourgloves.com the OHL is on pace to for roughly 134 fights this season, down around 34 from a year ago and the eighth consecutive season that fight totals have dropped in the league.

Go back 20 years there were over 1,000 fights in the 1998-99 season, led by Ryan Barnes who had 40.

Needless to say the game has changed and the OHL has made sure it has.

First there were rules to eliminate the role of the enforcer, then those rules were tightened even more, adding in ones that have virtually helped eliminate the staged fight.

Ty Bilcke will be remembered as the last of the dying breed.

The Windsor Spitfires winger was the last of the heavyweights, a player whose main role was to create physical mayhem and drop the gloves, as his two goals and 410 career penalty minutes in 179 career games would attest.

Bilcke, who plays senior hockey in Alberta these days after two years of university hockey, had 37 fights for the Spitfires in the 2011-12 OHL season.

The following season the league began suspending players for every fight they had above 10, and nobody has had more than 13 fights in a regular season since.

In 2016 that rule was dropped to a three-fight limit.

That’s not to say there aren’t some legitimate tough guys in the league, who in a different day and age might have had way more fights. But there are no longer players whose sole asset are their ability and willingness to fight.

Has the league suffered? Of course not. It’s better. There’s more room for skilled players and more opportunity for smaller players.

Visions of dirty play and nasty stickwork blossoming in a non-fighting environment have simply not happened.

The league is more entertaining, the players are safer.

Now if we could just eliminate those ridiculous moments when a player is jumped after delivering a hard, clean hit.




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