CH1L Rumor Surfaces Again

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CH1L Rumor Surfaces again June 19, 2012 7:20 AM

Once again, the CH1L rumor has surfaced. Last week at TJHN the phone calls an emails began coming in once again. Players and parents are asking if the CH1L is real and if so will it ever get off the ground.

I spoke with CHL Commissioner Duane Lewis a few months ago regarding this issue, I also spoke with CHL director of Hockey Operations Jim Wiley to get his take.

When speaking with Commissioner Lewis about player development, both professional an junior I asked him directly if the CHL is working on developing the CH1L. I was very specific in using the CH1L name, and I was very specific in addressing the rumor.

Mr. Lewis stated that the CHL has been approached by an outside entity and that this entity presented the idea of a junior league to the CHL. Mr. Lewis made it very clear that this idea is "not something being developed internally." Mr. Lewis stated that the business of the CHL is to promote and develop professional hockey.

Mr. Lewis also went on to say that the CHL listens to ideas from many people and that the CHL is open to developing hockey at every level, but continued to make it clear that the priority and purpose of the CHL is professional hockey.

When speaking with Jim Wiley, the CHL’s director of hockey operations, a person who should know what player development ideas are in the works, Mr. Wiley said "I have no idea where this rumor started." When I continued asking, "wouldnt you know if the CHL was developing a Junior League?", Mr. Wiley said "I would think someone would tell me if we were thinking of changing from pro to junior.".

Other CHL team sources have said "we have zero interest in any junior product", "if the league attempted to go this direction we would join the ECHL."

A few CHL teams have added Tier III junior programs to their operations this year. This is a safe option because they are self funded on player tuition.

If anyone in the CHL thinks that by going to a "Tier I" type model that they will make money or save money, they clearly haven’t done the math. Sure you will cut player payroll and work mans comp, but you will also be making other cuts.

You will cut the value of sponsorships to your corporate supporters, those sponsors will not see the same value in junior as they did in pro. Why? Because you have been selling pro hockey to them for years. Fans will not see the same value in ticket prices, you will loose fans, nearly every team attempting this change has. Teams will also have to add additional staff in order to keep players NCAA compliant and for scouting. Pro teams have far more options as players finish junior and college coming to them. Try recruiting against the USHL and teams will learn quickly that they dont stand a chance.

In Junior Hockey you can not market Tier III as Tier II and you can not market Tier II as Tier I. The thought process behind attempting to compete with the USHL does not make sense.

The premise is that if this league is developed that European and Canadian players will come because of increased import player limits. Over age players cut from these teams may come, but top end players will not leave established leagues for a start up league. Canadian players have Major Junior as a goal, European players have their top level leagues in their own country’s.

The International Olympic Committee only recognizes USA Hockey as the official development and sanctioning body in the US. Players know this and the world knows this.

The only player this type of league would get would be over age players, and players that should probably be in Tier III. The NAHL is the top Tier II league in the country, so why would players avoid another sanctioned and established league for a start up? They would go to the NAHL first,

If you were to approach a player from MODO to come to the US, he might do so for the USHL to go to an NCAA program, that would be very rare though. Canadian top players will choose major junior first for NHL development or the USHL to go to NCAA programs. This will not change in the near future.

Why leave your own country that is scouted by the NHL? Europe is scouted so well now that they dont have to leave home unless its for Canadian Major Junior and the NHL. USHL players wont jump ship for a league attempting to compete with an already established league.

Nothing within this rumor makes any solid business sense.

All of the CH1L domain name variations remain unpurchased. The phone number rumored for the CH1L is a Las Vegas cell phone number that is not registered to anyone in the CHL that TJHN could verify. Those are the CH1L facts.

If the CHL teams want to go junior, all they need to do is continue joining the NAHL like they have been. If they want to go to Tier I junior, I am sure if they called the USHL and Skip Prince, that something could be done along the road.

The truth to the rumor is that its a rumor. The National Enquirer has some nice rumors too, maybe I will forward this rumor along to them as it seems as reliable as Sydney Crosby being traded to the LA Kings because he recently took up surfing while on vacation.

Joseph Kolodziej

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