Chief NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan has praised a United States Hockey League initiative designed to cut down hazardous play.
The pilot program, spearheaded by USHL commissioner Skip Prince, is a five-point plan designed to eliminate what the league refers to as “the dumb and dangerous play.”
The five primary elements of the USHL initiative include:
* New regulations governing dangerous play.
* Monitoring, review, early intervention and supplementary discipline by the commissioner’s office.
* Conferencing among the league’s hockey ops, competition committee, coaches, officials and players on how to improve play.
* A focus on improving equipment.
* Devising a more consistent way of tracking injuries.
The USHL liaised with the NHL about the pilot program, one that Shanahan seemed impressed with.
“The National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety applauds the USHL for taking a proactive approach to player safety that focuses on changing on-ice behavior,” Shanahan said. “Instilling the proper approach to the game at the junior level is critical both to improving player safety and developing players who someday will become effective NHL players.”
The plan has several wrinkles that are intriguing to all levels of hockey:
— Team captains and players are informed of their roles in the safety program.
— The league is allowing players to wear three-quarter shields instead of full face cages, in an effort to provide better visual fields.
— Rather than eliminate fighting, the USHL is attempting to fix the “lead-up” issues without taking the overall aggressiveness out of the game.
The announcement of the league’s pilot program comes just days after the Ontario Hockey League implemented its new fighting rule for 2012-13.