There is a lot of talk about the new Canadian International Hockey League these days. Unfortunately most of the talk is confusing to players and parents alike.
Calling the CIHL “official” is beyond premature. Anyone can purchase a website and throw it out there and call themselves a league. It happens almost every year. A website does not make you official, playing real games makes you official, so lets not jump the gun and call the CIHL something it is not.
Why the confusion? The CIHL is attempting to label itself as Canadian Junior A or Tier II as most United States and European players would understand as being comparable to the NOJHL or NAHL. The confusion stems largely from the fact that the Espanola Rivermen are leaving the NOJHL which is Junior A or Tier II depending on where your from, and joining the CIHL.
Its not all that uncommon for a team to switch from one league to another really. Typically though it is not done in the way Espanola is making the transition.
The CIHL is touting “hockey without borders”. The problem with the usage of that phrase is the context it is being framed in.
While the CIHL is saying it would like to bring in European and more United States born players, they are also saying that there are not enough good Canadian born players to have Junior A rosters. Frankly, that’s a slap in the face to Canadian players. If there aren’t enough Canadian players, and USA Hockey has not approved more Tier II growth in the United States because they feel there are not enough Tier II players to warrant expansion, then what will the CIHL actually deliver?
If the CIHL thinks European and United States players are going to flock to the newly formed league they are definitely mistaken. The top players will always go to the top, and more established leagues. They will always look to Hockey Canada and USA Hockey sanctioned leagues first when looking at Junior A or Tier II.
When looking at Tier III in the United States, the top players will always go to the sanctioned and established leagues first. While the WSHL is carving out a nice little niche for themselves with top local talent, the top players still look to the top leagues in Hockey Canada or USA Hockey.
When the CIHL touts that they will play showcase games against the MWJHL, they are saying they will be playing Tier III showcase games. This is not Junior A or Tier II hockey.
The CIHL is claiming they are forming this league in order to increase scouting opportunities for players. Again, they would be mistaken in that assertion or assumption on their part. Very few NCAA D-3 programs scout the MWJHL, and all scouts will gravitate toward the sanctioned Tier III teams and leagues before watching the MWJHL. NCAA D-1 programs do not look for players in the MWJHL and will not look for players in the CIHL.
The fact that only a handful of players from the MWJHL went to NCAA D-3 programs in the last two seasons simply proves the point. Its not a knock on the MWJHL because they are doing their best, and they are getting some players to the appropriate level of college hockey. Good for them good for the players.
The CIHL is being made up of one team who left the NOJHL before they would have likely been removed, and another team from the GMHL, an independent pay to play Tier III league in Ontario. Those are the two core members.
The GMHL and MWJHL would not be competitive at the Tier III National level in the United States. I have seen both leagues, and they are not even close to the top teams in Tier III.
To see where things are heading you have to know where they are getting direction from.
Tim Clayden is a nice enough guy on the phone, but he is also a guy who has been suspended on multiple occasions for multiple rules violations in multiple leagues. Has every commissioner been the bad guy, or are there reasons for these suspensions? People do not get suspended on multiple occasions without doing something to deserve the suspension.
Newly announced Director of Officials George Harrison is someone I know all too well. George most recently attempted to start the Northern Professional Hockey League, a league that never saw the light of day. Before that though George was the operator of the Lapeer Loggers in the All American Hockey League. A league I once served as Vice President and Co- Owner of the Battle Creek Revolution.
The Lapeer Loggers were wildly successful at the gate. Averaging round 800 fans a night in their three or four week existence. Why such a short existence when they were doing so well? Amazingly the money disappeared and the bills weren’t paid, the players weren’t paid, and then he threatened lawsuits from Canada when people wanted their money.
While Dean Pauli may be a respected law enforcement officer, he is also an employee of Tim Clayden’s. The two have worked together with the North Bay Skyhawks, Port Hope Predators and Trenton Golden Hawks of the OJHL. Instances of suspensions with some of these franchises:
Port Hope Predators Suspension http://www.northumberlandnews.com/news-story/3771941-predators-hit-with-another-oha-suspension/
Port Hope Predators Suspension #2 http://www.northumberlandtoday.com/2007/10/23/predators-charge-cougars-with-tampering
Clayden was suspended for the remained of the 2013-2014 season by the NOJHL in large part due to comments made publicly that were damaging to the NOJHL and its member franchises. Those comments were seen by many as unbecoming of a “hockey professional” throughout the province of Ontario.
The most recent information coming in to TJHN is that the alleged cities to he hosting these alleged CIHL teams do not have lease agreements with the alleged CIHL team owners. The alleged move of the Bracebridge Phantoms from the GMHL to the CIHL is now rumored to be “on hold”.
Several sources in Canada are also reporting that the “owners” who are allegedly owning these teams really come down to Tim Clayden being the “owner” of most of the teams.
Players and parents have reached out to TJHN for the truth of what is going on with this league, and the truth is, there is no “league” yet. There is an idea called the CIHL, but that idea comes down to a website at this point.
Joseph Kolodziej – Publisher