Rules tend to change in the AHL before they do in the NHL. It's a minor league, so it makes sense: test out the rules at a lower level before potentially bringing them up at the higher level.
And it's the off-season, so it's time for tweaking. The AHL has announced a handful of rule changes, and the most controversial and talked about are sure to be the new rules regarding fighting. These changes include:
- Players who fight at or immediately after puck drop will be assessed an automatic game misconduct penalty, amidst what other penalties are appropriate.
- Any player who hits 10 fights in the regular season will be suspended for one game. Fights number 11, 12, and 13 will also feature a one game suspension for the player.
- Any player who fights 14 fights in a single season will then be suspended two games. Fifteen fights is another two games, as is 16, and so on and so forth.
It's similar to what the OHL did a couple of years ago to crack down on fighting. Wanting to keep fighting out of the junior ranks but keeping it in the pros are two very different things, though. Sixteen-year-olds fighting isn't a good look - but professional 20-somethings who know what they've signed up for? What's the harm?
Well, Rich Clune falls in the latter category. He has 327 penalty minutes over 139 NHL games played; his role is pretty obvious. But he doesn't have a problem with the rule changes for the league he'll be playing in next season:
Save you reporters some time. The 10 fight limit and no fighting off the face-off rule is great. Fighting isn't done, just guys who suck are— Rich Clune (@richclune) July 7, 2016
If Clune doesn't have a problem with it - and remember, this is how the dude makes his living - then it's pretty hard to find reason to complain. If all you can do is fight, then you don't have a place in the game.
Clune scored eight goals and had 24 total points over 49 games for the Marlies last season. He can clearly contribute at the AHL level. He also had 146 penalty minutes, and... 10 fights, right on the dot (though he had 17 for the Milwaukee Admirals in 2014-15).
So he probably won't hit those fighting totals again. But that's fine - he's in favour of the rule changes, and he'll likely abide by them. After all, he's still got actual hockey to play, too.