The days of showing up with just a handful of players for a game in the North Peace Hockey League (NPHL) are over.
The senior men's league has come up with a new rule that will fine teams $1,000 if they show up with fewer than 10 players. The money will go to the opposition.
"What it comes down to is that we are supposed to be a competitive senior hockey league, and when you show up with five or seven guys to play hockey in a competitive senior hockey league I don't think you are doing anybody any justice," explained NPHL president Jack McAvoy
"I don't think that the people who come to the rink and pay $10 to watch that should have to. If you can't get 10 players to play then maybe you should take a look at your hockey club, and maybe you should say, 'hey, maybe we should try something else'."
However, it remains to be seen what the reaction of the teams will be the first time in the 2011-12 season that one of them has to fork over $1,000.
"Rules are great, until they affect you the wrong way, and then we will find out what the rule is like."
Teams can't ask to have a game cancelled because of a lack of players. That's been a long-standing rule.
Clubs are allowed to cancel games, but the league must grant them permission, and the reason has to be valid. For example, a lack of players is not a valid reason, but a death on the team or terrible weather conditions are.
"If you phone me and tell me 'we don't have enough players and we can't play'," then it is a $4,000 fine. The only reason to cancel a game is bad weather and there are [special] circumstances, like someone was killed. But you can't cancel a hockey game because you don't have enough players."
The short-bench motion was passed unanimously by those teams in attendance at the NPHL's spring meeting in Spirit River, where the idea was brought up.
The meeting was attended by most NPHL teams, but reps from the Horse Lake Chiefs, Lakeland Eagles, Valleyview Jets and Dawson Creek Canucks were absent.
The Chiefs were a first-year team last season and are still on probation and do not have voting rights. Because they did not attend the meeting, their probation has been extended for another season.
A representative from the Grimshaw Huskies did attend the meeting. He was not allowed to speak or vote as the team is on a leave of absence.
In other matters involving the NPHL, the teams were asked to consider a 2-2-1-1-1 playoff format; all teams were urged to send a rep to Hockey Alberta meetings to have a greater impact on decision making at the provincial level; reps discussed entry fees for new teams; and the Grande Prairie rep raised the issue of more interlocking games between the West Division and East Division. No decisions were made on any of these issues.
However, the league did make a decision on releasing its list of players and the number of fighting infractions.
Some teams were concerned that opponents might pick a fight with a player and get him into his third fight and thus be suspended. The league agreed to only release each team's fighting list to the respective club.
The league also decided to extend the year's leave of absence rule to two years.