QUEBEC CITY -- The member of the national assembly (MNA) for Marquette and official opposition spokesperson for sports, recreation and healthy lifestyles Enrico Ciccone presented a bill to the National Assembly on Wednesday that would ban fighting in sports involving persons under the age of 18.

In a news release, Ciccone said he has long believed that banning fights for underage athletes is the right solution.

He said in the release that he has repeatedly launched pleas to protect young people. He believes that with what we know today about the consequences of concussions in particular, of which he himself has been the victim on more than one occasion, that it is obvious that fights no longer have their place on the ice.

Ciccone played in junior and professional hockey for a dozen years starting in 1987 with the Shawinigan Cataractes, in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (The Q), where he made his debut at the age of 17.

Known for his enforcer talents more than for his ability to score goals, Ciccone played for three seasons in the Q, where he accumulated 840 penalty minutes in 159 games.

Between 1992 and 2000, he played for seven different teams in the National Hockey League, including the Montreal Canadiens, and amassed 1,469 penalty minutes in 374 games.

Ciccone's initiative is particularly aimed at the leaders of the Q who recently amended the existing regulations to increase the duration of a penalty following a fight from five to 15 minutes.

"Increasing the penalty time after a fight is not enough. It takes a concrete gesture, a firm position, that is to say, a complete ban," Ciccone said in the statement. "We continue to let our 15, 16 and 17-year-olds hit each other when we know the impact of concussions on health. It is absolutely unacceptable. If sports organizations do not have the will to protect our young people in order to send a clear and unequivocal message by banning them completely, it is up to us, as legislators, to make sure we go as far as possible to protect them,"

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2020.