Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Robison Talks Lockout, Fighting & CHLPA

Ron Robison
  The Western Hockey League's annual 'before the season' media conference call with Commissioner Ron Robison dealt with a number of issues today including the major elephant in the room, the fledgling Canadian Hockey League Players Association.

  Apparently, the media aren't the only ones having trouble getting accurate information about the organization.

  "We've been attempting to get further information about this organization, who they're representing and what they're organization is all about, who their directors are, how they're funded and so forth," said Robison, "We haven't received a response for over a month.  It's been frustrating on our end because we haven't received a response."

  The WHL announced today they were enhancing its rules to try and curb staged fighting.

  Players who engage in fisticuffs immediately after any faceoff will be given game misconducts along with fighting majors.

  "A couple of years ago, we introduced the staged fighting that occurs at the start of games and at the start of a period but we wanted to expand on that," said Robison, "We just feel that's an area that shouldn't be part of the game and wanted to focus on that area."

  The Ontario Hockey League announced Wednesday that they will be suspended players who exceed ten fighting majors and will fines teams $1,000 from the 16th fighting major on.

  Robison says those type of penalties aren't something they're considering at this time.

  "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."

  Robison also confirmed the WHL will not be changing its trapzoid rule for 2012-2013, meaning goaltenders will still only be allowed to play the puck in the marked area behind the net.

  The QMJHL did away with the trapazoid for this season but Robison says Canadian Hockey League events, like the Memorial Cup, will still see the trapazoid rule in effect.

  The NHL lockout and its possible impact on attendance in the WHL was also discussed.

  "We certainly saw an increase in Calgary and Vancouver at the time, our NHL markets, and we would expect we would see the same pattern this year if it was an extended lockout.  We don't believe there'll be much impact in other markets, where we enjoy reasonably good attendance overall."
  During the 2004-2005 lockout, the WHL drew just over 3.4 million fans (4,763 per game) and was up more than 300,000 from the previous season.

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