Elite League follows NHL lead on discipline

Wednesday, 28th June 2006

The Elite Ice Hockey League are pleased to announce that a substantive review of discipline has taken place and a new code of conduct will be in place for the start of the forthcoming 2006-07 season.

Having closely monitored the progressive manner in which the National Hockey League was officiated last season and also the recent World Championships, the EIHL will operate a similar 'zero-tolerance' policy intended to improve the speed of the game and bring about an increase in goals, excitement and less of the clutching and grabbing that has been prevalent in recent seasons.

EIHL Director of Hockey Andy French commented, "we all saw what a massive difference 'zero-tolerance' brought to the NHL last season, crowds were up as more goals were scored and there was much greater speed and flow to the games. And for those fans that enjoy the physical aspect of a contact sport, there was no less hitting but, much less of the interference offences that slow the game down and infuriate all fans. If it worked in the NHL and the World Championships, we see no reason not to adopt a similar strategy in the Elite League."

In accordance with a stricter implementation of the playing rules, the Elite League will be holding a pre-season clinic for all teams coaches and the officials so that nobody will be under any misapprehension as to how the game will be called from September. French added, "we expect a rise in the number of minor penalties called in the early weeks while player, coaches and indeed the officials adjust but, we're not re-writing any rules, all we're doing is enforcing them to the full. Players and coaches will have to learn that the way the game is going is towards more speed and goal action and therefore, the impeding of an opponent by illegal methods will now be punished hard."

The EIHL will introduce a minimum tariff of suspensions and fines in relation to Match penalties. A full list of the tariff will be published on the EIHL website well in advance of the start of the season and circulated to all the Elite League head coaches.

The EIHL has also taken the opportunity to appoint former referee Simon Kirkham as its Director of Discipline. All clubs will be responsible for providing video/DVD evidence in relation to possible disciplinary action and the decision of Mr Kirkham, utilising the tariff guidelines, will be final.

EIHL Chairman Eamon Convery noted, "A lot of thought and discussion between coaches and officials has gone into this and we truly believe that the new structure for handling discipline along with stricter implementation of the playing rules will further improve the game. Our sport is a fantastic spectacle and offers a stunning combination of speed, skill, agility, strength, physical contact and sheer determination - the object of this initiative is to realise all of these elements to the fullest extent and offer our fans even more added value. To ensure the game continues to evolve and progress, we will hold a second coaches and officials seminar within a few weeks of the start of the season to review the effect upon the early season games and we firmly believe this initiative will be a major benefit for the sport."