Calgary, AB – The Western Hockey League Board of Governors wrapped up their Annual General Meeting today in Calgary by announcing they have adopted a Seven Point Plan to reduce blows to the head and concussions. The WHL Seven Point Plan is a comprehensive approach to addressing this important matter and includes the adoption of new playing rules; more severe suspensions for repeat offenders; production of an educational video on risks of concussion; educating the players to be more responsible for themselves on the ice; a seminar for all WHL Head Coaches and General Managers; new soft cap elbow and shoulder pads; expanded research data and a review of all WHL arena facilities safety standards.
The WHL Playing Rule changes includes the adoption of a Checking to the Head penalty for lateral and blind side hits to an unsuspecting opponent in open ice where the head is targeted or is the principle point of contact. The WHL also tightened the standard on late hits as well as charging and interference penalties to address players building up significant speed and hitting the opponent along the boards with excessive force. The WHL also adopted a new embellishment rule and introduced automatic suspensions for players who receive multiple penalties for checking to the head, checking from behind, embellishment and kneeing.
"The WHL is fully committed to addressing head blows and concussions in a comprehensive manner," commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. "We believe the Seven Point Plan we have adopted will not only create a safer environment for our players but will also enable us to better educate our players, coaches and officials as to what constitutes a legal hit."
The WHL Board of Governors also adopted revisions to their Regulations and Constitution and received an update on their new WHL franchise in Victoria.
The WHL also announced that the Kelowna Rockets, Red Deer Rebels and Saskatoon Blades have been short listed as the final three candidates to host the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup. The final bid presentations will be made at the October 12, 2011 meeting of the WHL Board of Governors in Calgary.
The WHL will be releasing the 2011-12 WHL Pre-Season schedule on Thursday, June 23 and the 2011-12 WHL Regular Season schedule on Wednesday, June 29.