The QMJHL has voted to change their rules for fighting in order to receive $20 million in pandemic relief funds from the Quebec Government. Representatives from the league’s 18 teams in Quebec and the Maritimes voted on the new rules in a video conference last Wednesday.
Starting with the 2020-21 season, players who fight will receive a five-minute major penalty and a 10-minute misconduct. (It’s important to note that the misconduct will not start until after the major has been served).
Players who accumulate three fights will serve a one-game suspension, with one-game suspensions added for each subsequent fight.
The stiffer penalties come after Isabelle Charest, the minister responsible for sport in Quebec, called on the league to ban fighting.
QJMHL commissioner Gilles Corteau said the rule changes were not a condition for receiving financial support from the province.
“That part of the discussion I had with the sports minister was very clear. She said to me `I will never impose anything to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League,”‘ he said.
The commissioner added that the minister asked him to look at the rules and see if there was a way to reduce the number of concussions in the league.
“I gave her my word that I would work on it, which I did,” Corteau said.
The goal of the Quebec government and the QMJHL is to reduce the number of fights in the league, which had 323 fights last season in the pre-season and regular season.
The league is seeking $20 million in government assistance to help cover revenue lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two Teams Shutdown For October
In other news from “the Q”, rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in Quebec’s two major city centers forced two QMJHL teams to shut down for the rest of October on Monday.
According to the Chronicle Herald, the Quebec Remparts and Blainville-Boisbriand Armada will have to postpone the rest of their games this month on orders from the Quebec government. All team sports in Quebec’s ‘red zone’ were shut down for the month.
The Armada and Remparts will miss eight games each. There is no word yet on whether those games will be rescheduled.
The 10 other Quebec-based teams were not affected, with the exception of games they were scheduled to play against Quebec and Blainville-Boisbriand. The six teams in the Maritimes will also continue as usual.
The league issued a statement Monday afternoon questioning the government’s ruling:
“Following the Quebec government’s announcement to prohibit the practice of sports in the designated red zones, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is very disappointed in this decision.
“The conduct of our activities has been above reproach since the start of training camps at the end of August. The return to play protocol was approved and applauded by public health officials in Quebec and by the three Maritime-based provinces in which the league operates. It has been hailed as thorough and effective. The league would like to congratulate the players and team staffs for its flawless execution.
“Over the course of the next few days, we will share with Quebec public health officials additional measures which will render the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada’s and Quebec Remparts’ bubbles even more secure. We hope that these new directives will be well-received by Quebec’s health agency. The QMJHL is convinced that these additional measures will go above and beyond what is required to protect our players, staffs and officials and enable all of our teams to continue playing.”
By Jon Sorensen