The AHL has seen two big changes already for next year, with the relocation of the Springfield Falcons to Tucson, Arizona and the relocation of the Portland Pirates to Springfield to replace the old Falcons.
Now, the league has addressed those changes to provide some alignment clarity, announcing the four divisions for the coming season in addition to some new rule changes for the upcoming year:
The AHL will see the Tucson Roadrunners become the eighth team in the newly-former Pacific Division for the upcoming year, playing a 68 game schedule out on the West Coast as one of six California and Arizona clubs that play a shortened season.
The league also confirmed that the ‘dry scrape’ will be eliminated before overtime hockey, additionally confirming that teams being called for icing will not be allowed to make line changes or take a timeout.
The final rule changes announced had to do with fighting, though.
The AHL has been looking for a way to fix problems with fighting, so they’ve added a harsher penalty for players who get in trouble for physical altercations. Per the official release following this week’s Board of Governor’s meetings:
• Players who enter into a fight prior to, at, or immediately following the drop of the puck for a faceoff will be assessed an automatic game misconduct in addition to other penalties assessed.
• During the regular season, any player who incurs his 10th fighting major shall be suspended automatically for one (1) game. For each subsequent fighting major up to 13, the player shall also be suspended automatically for one (1) game.
• During the regular season, any player who incurs his 14th fighting major shall be suspended automatically for two (2) games. For each subsequent fighting major, the player shall also be suspended automatically for two (2) games.
• In any instance where the opposing player was assessed an instigator penalty, the fighting major shall not count towards the player’s total for this rule.