CHICAGO, SEPT. 17 -- Cracking down on bench-clearing brawls, the National Hockey League Board of Governors voted today to hand out stiff penalties to coaches, players and clubs to stop such infractions.
"Because of at least seven incidents last year involving bench-clearing brawls, the NHL last June received a proposal to come up with legislation to cut out this type of incident, which has nothing to do with the game of hockey," said John A. Ziegler Jr., league president.
Under the new rules, the first player leaving the bench for a fight would receive a 10-game suspension, his coach would get a five-game suspension and his team would get a $10,000 fine.
The second player on the ice would receive a five-game suspension, his coach would get a three-game suspension and his team would be fined $10,000.
In both cases, each player and coach would pay a $1,000 fine, and suspensions and fines would double for each subsequent infraction.
Any team caught reimbursing its coaches and players to cover the fines would be subject to a $100,000 fine.
Previously, the first player off the bench received a double-minor penalty, a game misconduct and a three-game suspension.
Also under the new rules adopted by NHL governors at a downtown hotel, any player leaving the penalty box for a brawl on the ice receives a fine of $500, the maximum allowed under the NHL's collective-bargaining agreement.
In addition, clubs would be fined $25,000 if their players are involved in fights involving more than two players before or after each period of play, and the instigator of such brawls would be suspended for 10 games.
"Multiplayer brawls have no place in the National Hockey League. We feel that this legislation will eliminate what has damaged the image of the league," said William Wirtz, chairman of the board and president of the Chicago Blackhawks.