Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Snow-shoveling has already been banned at some pro teams
The provincial government of Ontario has relaxed stricter rink rules as the professional hockey season gets underway.
Now, hockey players at the National Hockey League’s Toronto Maple Leafs are allowed to move around the ice and start playing without equipment.
The rules are designed to keep them safe and help ice resurfacing projects, but they have been criticized as “locker room lite”.
The Leaf’s operations department has been working with Peel Regional Police to fix the problem.
Rinks have used “softer” regulations recently, the Leafs said.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Leaf jerseys are used to make the outer ice rink surface slippery
In most Canadian leagues, NHL players are not allowed to play without any kind of protective equipment that prevents their heads and bodies from hitting the ice.
Now, anyone who’s played ice hockey at any level for five years or more can play without any type of gear or access to the ice unless there is an injury, the Leafs have said.
The team’s “new design ethos” will also allow anyone who has experienced an injury to return to the ice quicker, the team says.
That means not only 12-year-olds but even some NHL players can now play without any “locker room lite” regulations.
Many ice hockey leagues in Canada have long had similar but softer regulations, which were supposed to be used as a buffer as ice resurfacing projects are underway.
But at least eight Canadian leagues have made decisions to relax the stricter restrictions in response to concerns that an influx of new NHL players could hurt their competitive edge.
Toronto’s fans will be relieved to see their team make an impression on the ice, but will be disappointed by the change in regulations, a Leafs spokesperson said.