Juniors to follow NHL lead

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 12:22 PM ET

Canada's three major junior hockey leagues will adopt for the 2005-06 season all but two of the rule changes announced yesterday by the NHL.

OHL commissioner David Branch, also president of the Canadian Hockey League, said last night the major juniors will defer until 2006-07 reducing the size of goalie equipment and the moving of the goal lines back two feet.

That means the major juniors will, among other things, be using a shootout to decide tied games after overtime, be going back to the tagup offside and will be eliminating the centre red line for passes.

The juniors already have no-touch icing.

Branch said the CHL tries to play by NHL rules.

"We are the No. 1 development league in the world and we attempt to provide an environment similar to what our players will experience when they move to pro," he said.

The major juniors were aware of the impending NHL rule changes, Branch said.

"During the Memorial Cup in London, (NHL vice-president) Colin Campbell provided an overview to the three leagues of some of the initiatives the NHL was contemplating.

"We made it clear to the NHL that we would undertake to adopt what they identify as new rules."

Branch said time is a factor for equipment suppliers when it comes to the new goalie equipment "and it's just not possible for our suppliers to respond."


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