by Joe Tasca on 09/19/12 at 10:30 PM ET
Check out Windsor Spitfire forward Ty Bilcke's reaction to the OHL's decision to suspend players who accumulate more than ten fights this season:
“I stand by the league’s decision,” said Windsor Spitfires forward Ty Bilcke, who led the OHL in fights last season with 37 bouts.
“David Branch’s purpose is to protect the players in the league.
“I’m actually excited about it. It’s a challenge for me to show people who have been calling me words like goon, that I’m a hockey player first.
“It’ll protect players and bring more skill to the league.”
Forgive me for doubting the sincerity of Bilcke's answer. He was more than likely reciting the company line. Catch him at the rink without a reporter around and he'll surely provide an entirely different response.
What's interesting is the other two major junior leagues didn't adopt a fight-limit rule for the 2012-13 season. Here's WHL commissioner Ron Robison:
"We did review it with our Competition Committee. We also were bringing forward at the same time and shared with Ontario and Quebec that we wanted to move and expand in the area of addressing staged fighting and that's what we focused on and didn't feel at this particular stage that we were prepared to entertain the other rule."
It's only a matter of time.
Last year, I predicted that fighting would be abolished fom professional hockey in no more than ten years. Granted, the OHL isn't a pro league, but it doesn't take a genius to realize this is the opening salvo in the quest to ban fisticuffs from all levels of hockey.
The wheels have been in motion for a long time, but the concussion epidemic has certainly expedited the process. In fact, had the current body of knowledge about concussions existed 30 years ago, fighting would've probably been eliminated in 1990.
If there's any consolation for Ty Bilcke, he can at least tell his grandchildren he was the last OHL pugilist to have over 30 fights in a season.
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About Tasca's Take
Tasca's Take is written by Joe Tasca. Born and raised in Westerly, Rhode Island, Joe works as a broadcaster for seven radio stations in southern New England. Whether that's a testament to his on-air ability or because he has a desparate need for money is debatable.
Joe spends his summers playing golf, enjoying the beauty of Misquamicut Beach, and wining and dining girls who are easily awed by the mere presence of a radio personality. During the winter months, he can usually be found taking in a hockey game somewhere in North America. In the spring, he spends much of his time in botanical gardens tiptoeing through the tulips, while autumn is a time to frolic with his golden retrievers through piles of his neighbors’ leaves.