“It’s not the hockey I know,” said general manager of the Owen Sound Attack’s after the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) proposed to ban body-checking to limit the spread of Covid-19 back in early October. Now, almost 2 months later, the proposed rule to rid the league of body-checking will take place for the 2020-2021 season. This is the biggest rule change ever to happen in professional hockey, and there is much on the line for the OHL.
The decision to ban body-checking came just a few weeks ago, which still leaves many questions unanswered. One big question that remains to be seen is what will professional hockey look like without hitting? Not only will it be hard for players to adapt, but the OHL taking body-checking out will also most likely set a chain reaction of events. Hitting is an essential part of the game that does more than get fans pumped up. From a young age, hockey players learn that the main purpose of hitting someone is to separate them from the puck. This is something that young hockey players are taught from day 1, and we all know how hard unlearning things can be. Especially when you are trying to unlearn something you have been doing for 6 years.
“The OHL taking body-checking out will also most likely set a chain reaction of events.”
This new rule change will impact two different types of players in two very different ways. For starters, it will make it harder to distinguish actual skill guys from scared skill guys. Skill guys are your goal scorers, stick handlers, and speed guys. These guys will be able to skate around forever, with no worries about getting hit hard. The league will be a lot easier for these skill guys, so expect a lot of goals this year! Next, you have your enforcers. Enforcers are the big guys who use their size to their advantage by hitting a little bit more than the average player. These guys always fight for ice time because primarily, they are out there to hit rather than score. Unfortunately, expect a large decrease in minutes for these guys because their services will not be needed as much. Regardless if you appear better or worse, there will be a lot of grey area surrounding who is a legitimate player versus who is not.
With the misrepresentation of players’ actual abilities and talents, comes the biggest question revolving around taking body-checking out of the OHL. What will this mean for the upcoming NHL draft? Every year, the OHL produces a large number of players to the NHL. With the new rules, it will be interesting to see how NHL managers will draft. The OHL is the only known professional league that is taking body-checking out of the game, so it would not surprise me at all if general managers look past the OHL until they reinstate body-checking.
“What will this mean for the upcoming NHL draft?”