OHL bans use of hard shoulder, elbow pads

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:12 PM ET

The Ontario Hockey League has effectively banned the use of hard elbow and shoulder pads.

The OHL said Wednesday a review of "several player safety issues" led to the decision that "all OHL players will wear soft cap shoulder and elbow pads" starting this season. The change, which needed to be approved by the OHL's board of governors, was made in the hopes it will cut down on head injuries.

The league will also crack down players who are considered repeat offenders when it comes to head checks.

"Furthermore, in consideration of concussion awareness, the league will continue to reinforce player safety messages through educational videos while member club coaches will be emphasizing proper on-ice awareness," the league statement said.

The league announced other changes for 2011-12:

  • The league's draft, which has traditionally been the first Saturday in May, has been moved up a month to the first Saturday in April.

  • Fights between two goalies will result in an automatic game misconduct and minimum two-game suspension for the combatants.

Fanelli returns

Almost two years after nearly dying on the ice, defenceman Ben Fanelli is returning to the Kitchener Rangers.

Fanelli, left in critical condition after a blow to the head by then Erie Otters forward Michael Liambas in a game in October 2009, joined Rangers teammates for training camp Wednesday. Liambas was suspended for the remainder of the season.

"I know this is an exciting day for Ben, our club and our fans. Ben's rehabilitation has been about healing, without specific timelines. His dedication, commitment and perseverance as well as the support of his family and teammates has allowed him to reach his goal," Rangers COO Steve Bienkowski said.


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