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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Oh Canada






This story has given me several areas of personal debate.  First and foremost being should I include this on this blog.  I have decided that it can and potentially does impact Scouting Ohio High School Hockey.  It opens a seemingly endless can of worms related to hockey, that changes directions faster than rabbit being chased by a bobcat.

Simon Fraser University (SFU), pictured above, is located in the eternally beautiful British Columbia.  SFU is the first ever, international institution to receive NCAA status and the ability to compete in DII, for all NCAA titles.  SFU's entrance is a pilot program, but clearly we all know the NCAA is a business.  While operating under the guise of protecting amateur status and the athletes, has elected to pursue political issues and matters of personal choice.  So with out beating that dead horse to much, we can only ask, Why have'nt College athletes formed a players union?  A players union to protect their interest from the NCAA and University establishments.

So what does this mean for hockey?  SFU has hockey, as seen above.  It means a lot, in many areas of hockey.  The more I think about it, the more I find.  Do not take me or these my thoughts as the definitive word, but the following thoughts I have had, as have others and much has been kicked around, and much more has yet to be tossed about.  The first and seeming logical places this path leads are to the establishment of the NCAA as an international entity.  Impacting not just US athelets and institutions.   The next goes to the NCAA game.  Is it good or bad for NCAA hockey?  How would travel to BC impact travel costs?  Baring in mind teams currently travel to both Alaska schools and Alabama.  This year  will see a contingent of Hockey East members all up in the last USA frontier.  Which confernce picks up SFU?  WCHA, NHC look to be the most likely to me.  Maybe SFU plays independent while waitnig for 5 more BC area teams to follow suit, for that matter 5 more Canadian colleges and the establishment of the ACCHC( All Canadian College Hockey Conference).

There is big money currently abound  BC in hockey.  The NCAA's elite programs are constantly competing for what are considered the most elite amateur hockey players available.  Yes Team USA gets pounded for those youngsters.  I am speaking of the best NCAA eligible Jr players in Canada.  The best NCAA eligible player league, not single team.  The BCHL.  The BCHL consists of 16 member teams.  Teams with names like power house Penticton Vee's, Trail Smoke Eaters, Vernon Vipers, Couqitlam Express, and Powell River.  The BCHL has been a leader in producing NHL talent and is only now being matched by the USHL.  So imagine the recruiting impact, the instantaneous recruiting impact that has.  Every kid has two dreams in college hockey, no 3.  One to maybe make the nHL, but to play for his favorite team, and to play near home are the two I am thinking matter most.  think about the impact if kids from BC can stay and play NCAA hockey in BC.  Then compete against USA kids.  No rivalry's there.
Yet we can then not look past some speculations on the single elite jr league going.  The CHL, Canadian Major Junior Hockey.  Some in these parts refer to the CHL, which is the name equivalent of the NHL, as our nearest conference, the O, or Ontario Junior Hockey League.  The CHL is composed of the W-Western Junior Hockey League, The O as noted above, and the Q- Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.  All three battle each year for the memorial cup.  One can only ponder, would the big money in the W crush SFU's attempt at an NCAA d1 team?  Why think that in the first place?  Major Jr is big money.  For those who don't know these teams draw on average 8,000 fans, 12000+ in the memorial cup.  Players are paid salaries of $100- to over $400.00 a week and they receive cash in exchange for time played to pay for college tuition, have all their paid for, housing, transportation meals etc.  These are 16-20 year olds.  It does not sound like a lot of money 100-400 dollars a week, but if these kids hit NHL rosters, and they do more often than any other league, and stick its $525,000.00 a year to $1,000,000.00.  So these are your 1%ers more than less.   These teams make big money.  They are well established.  They wont look lovingly at anyone "steeling" their players.  This leads to another aspect.  The fledgling CHL players Union.  Would the players shape the Union to alter their compensation to a situation where they may retina NCAA eligibility?    I would think they should, I would think the NCAA and that being in the best interest of the NCAA would be offering those words of advice.  Advice which would in turn benefit the CHL owners and ownership groups.  There is no other industry in the US or Canada that profits from the hard work of 16-20 year old kids.  Is there the potential then I ask, for these 60 more or les CHL clubs to then establish, relationships with Canadian Colleges and establish self funded hockey clubs.  Where the Self Funded Varsity sport is now the new model?

All of the above is of course pending SFU finding or having the funding to pursue NCAA d1 hockey. Or entering in to the last stated thought of some how merging with a CHL club. Having been admitted as D2 they are prohibited from playing d3 and must then petition for D1.  They have a 2,000 seat facility, which is in the smalle end of NCAA rinks, and is a troubling.  Troubling until you look at the landscape and see the 15,000 seat Pacific Colosseum down the street.

We then enter the concept of watering down the sport.  A very real and potential issue.  We see the ramifications all the time with the perpetual state of flux in Jr hockey.  To many teams, to many played lacking real skill, and then the loss of teams.  The mentioned melding of CHL and NCAA hockey in Canada has potential.  Potential only if the right people can continue to profit as they have.  Potential in that the Canadian, US hockey rivalry is hot, Fun and booming.  This coupled with noted talks of expansion in the soon to be established B10 hockey conference in both womens and mens circles is very positive.  Any expansion creates opportunity for the Ohio player.