As far as Rule # 70- Leaving the Bench is concerned, there has been NO mid-season rule change as has been echoed by some FPHL teams. Rule # 70 has been in the FPHL rulebook for years and the first paragraph of the rule reads:
70.1 "No player may leave the players or penalty bench at any time during an altercation OR for the purpose of starting an altercation"
70.2 "A player who has entered the game while play is in progress from his own players' bench.....who starts an altercation may be subject to discipline in accordance with rule 28- Supplementary Discipline."
70.3 3rd paragraph "The player or goalkeeper who was the first or second player to leave the players’ (or penalty bench) during an altercation or for the purpose of starting an altercation, from either or both teams shall be assessed a game misconduct penalty"
In addition to Rule # 70 Leaving the Bench, Rule # 74.1 Too Many Men on the Ice goes a step further in clarifying how players are determined.
74.1, 2nd paragraph "When a player is retiring from the ice surface and is within the five foot (5') limit of his player's bench, and his substitute is on the ice, then the retiring player shall be considered off the ice for the purpose of Rule #70-Leaving the Bench
As you can see from the above rule references, the FPHL has a longstanding policy of penalizing and interpreting how the rule is to be applied.
The only change that was made mid-season, in response to multiple injuries incurred in several games as well as a couple of separate bench-clearing incidents was to allocate a specific number of games for this offense. The NHL rulebook calls for an automatic Ten (10) game suspension but the FPHL felt that was too severe and reduced it to an automatic Six (6) games. Suspending coaches for Three (3) games was also preferred as opposed to a large fine amount. The coaches suspensions were put in play to put more of the onus and responsibility of the actions of players on their coaching staff. The coaches suspensions were also directed towards specific acts of violence as coaches have the ability to prevent or greatly reduce these occurrences due to the leadership position which they hold.
This suspension policy was passed unanimously by the FPHL Executive Board and then sent before the team owners (Board of Governors) which was passed by a majority before going into effect on January 4, 2024. All teams and officials as well as the fans (by way of the FPHL website) were made aware of the new policy.
We are still unsure as to why a few teams were not in favor of a measure to promote player safety to a greater extent. We are disappointed in some of our organizations social media response and attacks towards the recents suspensions that were consistent and completely in line with the disciplinary action to which was outlined as stated.