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An Advisers Life – Hockey Canada Updates Non-Sanctioned Hockey Policy And It Is No Joke

The BCHL leaving the Hockey Canada structure has created a lot of discussion, and left a lot of families to make tough decisions about where they will play this year and next.

Hockey Canada, unlike USA Hockey can make policy that keeps players from returning to sanctioned programs within certain time limits. USA Hockey cannot make these kind of policies without violating their charter provided by United States congress, or many commercial laws governing interference with business.

Hockey Canada can not only make rules regarding players in non Hockey Canada leagues, but they can make rules regarding referee’s, coaches and other support staff. And now, the line has been drawn publicly and clearly.

In a statement released the other day Hockey Canada made the rules clear;

CALGARY, AB – In collaboration with its Members and partner leagues, Hockey Canada has announced a change to its Non-Sanctioned Leagues Policy ahead of the 2023-24 eligibility cut-off date.

Effective immediately, any player who participates in a non-sanctioned league after Sept. 30 is ineligible to join, affiliate with or apply for reinstatement to any sanctioned hockey team that competes for a national championship for the remainder of the season, which includes teams in the Canadian Hockey League, Canadian Junior Hockey League and those that vie for spots at Canada’s U18 National Club Championships. 

“Hockey Canada, our Members and partner leagues are proud to be Canada’s official hockey system and modifying our Non-Sanctioned Leagues Policy was not done hastily,” said Darren Cossar, senior vice-president of member engagement with Hockey Canada. “Together, we felt it was important to update the policy in the interest of the athletes who choose to compete for a national championship throughout an entire season, and we will continue to identify ways to strengthen our delivery of hockey to the benefit, safety and wellness of players, coaches, officials, parents, administrators and volunteers in sanctioned hockey programs.”

Last month, Hockey Canada released a document that clarifies 20 benefits available to participants in Hockey Canada-sanctioned programs and are either not provided or not guaranteed with non-sanctioned programs, which all operate without being recognized by government in Canada and are not governed by the International Ice Hockey Federation.

The loophole for reinstatement after Spetember 30th is now completely closed. This loophole has been used in the past for players who left the GMHL specifically. Now, that rule looks to not only apply to the BCHL and GMHL, but also to the USPHL and the EHL in the United States.

Yes. Hockey Canada does have the authority to close off teams and players in the United States from moving up to any of their sanctioned programs. It is simple. If you want to play in Canada, you are subject to Canadian rules. No different than if you want to play NCAA hockey that you have to make yourself aware of the rules regarding NCAA eligibility.

With less than 48 hours before the Hockey Canada deadline for players to make their final decisions, a lot of people are probably sitting at home wondering if they have made the right choices.

If you’re a bottom six forward in the BCHL, just how secure is your spot? If you’re an American player who was looking for a call up, what are your options now?

We already know that the Major Junior players or prospects that once went to the BCHL are not going there. We also know that the top U18 and U16 players that could be affiliate players are not going to the BCHL as well.

The application for reinstatement was the loophole that once allowed many players to rejoin Hockey Canada leagues over the years. With this process, mistakes were easily forgiven when players or parents made choices based on bad advice. Now though, there will be no excuses, and no second chances until next year.

Imagine getting cut in October or sometime later in the year now. The only option players will have is to go to another non Hockey Canada league. The decisions you make in the summer now loom much larger in the whole scheme of things.

Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser

[email protected]

When making decisions, Hockey Talent Management has been providing sound advice to players and parents for nearly three decades.

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