BCHL Commitments Decline With Scouting Decline Across Canada – Follow Up To BCHL Leaving CJHL

The BCHL has left the CJHL. We have covered this last week and it has been confirmed with multiple sources. They left the CJHL because the BCHL believes they are better than the CJHL member leagues. They felt they should be seen as being at a higher level than the CJHL members.

The BCHL felt, and believe, like many Canadians in British Columbia believe, that the BCHL is the best league for developing players for the NCAA.

The BCHL feels, or believes they are better than the North American Hockey League for developing players, and further believe they offer a higher level of competition.

News flash, no one in the NCAA has these beliefs or feelings. Another news flash, commitment numbers and scouting numbers do not support the BCHL’s lofty opinion of themselves.

While the BCHL is a very good league, the majority of their commitments come from players who are from the United States, who already have their commitment before going to the BCHL. This is a fact.

The BCHL gets the majority of it’s American players by way of those players being cut or released from USHL teams. This is also a fact.

The BCHL uses more American born players than any other Junior A league in Canada.

Ten years ago, the BCHL could be seen as an equal to the USHL. They are not even close to the USHL in talent any longer.

When the Import Player rules changed and American born players were still considered import players even after playing a year in Canada, the BCHL level of play came down drastically. Some National Championship teams at that time were nearly devoid of Canadian born players completely. And this is what prompted the rule change.

The BCHL uses more out of province import players than any other league in Canada as well. So its not like British Columbia is developing a lot of its home grown talent. They are taking it from other programs across the country.

Now by leaving the CJHL the BCHL hopes to be able to raid the rosters of all the other Provinces best U-18 and U-16 players. Because under CJHL rules member leagues can not recruit those out of province players. Being outside of CJHL rules would in theory allow the BCHL to suck talent from across the country.

So why are the commitment numbers for the BCHL down?

Lets first realize that NCAA Hockey was developed for American players at American Schools. It was never intended or designed to give any international students a free ride education on American tax payer dollars. This is something that schools have been discussing for several years now.

With the financial crisis of 2008, scouting budgets were slashed. Trips to Canada were completely eliminated for some schools, and most schools limited those trips.

Canada is more expensive to get to than staying within the United States to scout. The cost of travel, hotels, gasoline and food are all much higher in Canada than the USA.

The USHL is the leader in developing NCAA athletes. The NAHL is second, and arguably the best direct junior to NCAA development league. The NCDC is gaining a lot of ground and producing more commits every year. All three of these leagues offer scouts unlimited and inexpensive opportunities to scout the best NCAA prospects in the world. These are real economic facts.

With the COVID pandemic, there has been almost no scouting in Canada while in the United States scouting has exploded to all new highs. Players that normally would have gone to Canada stayed in the United States, and benefited from it with increased scouting.

Canada while taking a more conservative approach to hockey didn’t let anyone have even close to a regular season. Scouts like players couldn’t cross the border.

Every year, more and more American born Coaches are also getting the NCAA Coaching positions that used to go to Canadian Coaches. Why? Because the United States has been just as successful if not more successful at developing players than Canada for the NCAA.

American Coaches favor scouting the USHL, NAHL, NCDC, USPHL and NCDC. That is just simply a fact.

Culturally, American born players have prepared for NCAA hockey all their lives. Their grades in school, test scores and development plan is all geared toward the NCAA.

While for most Canadian players the NCAA is an option only if Major Junior doesn’t work out for them. This in many cases leaves Canadian players not as well prepared academically for NCAA programs.

All of these things influence scouting.

Across all of Canada scouting is down, NCAA commitments are down, and its been a trend for years. Six years ago I wrote this piece An Advisers Life – The Truth About Which Leagues NCAA D-1 Players Come From (thejuniorhockeynews.com) The trends in this piece have continued and have accelerated.

The USHL is number one, NAHL number two and the BCHL is holding on to number three while the NCDC is gaining ground on third place for NCAA D-1 commitments. The EHL and USPHL are the undisputed leaders in NCAA D-3 commitments and no one else even comes close.

The truth is, no one wants a 5 hour flight to BC unless its to get the best player in the league.

The truth is, the BCHL’s biggest problem is their own location. Leaving the CJHL isn’t going to improve your location, and its not going to improve your scouting or commitment numbers. That ship has sailed.

Maybe the BCHL should shift it’s focus to developing players for Major Junior and Canadian University. What’s wrong with that idea?

The truth is there is nothing wrong with that idea, but BCHL leadership ego’s will not accept the position they are now in. That is why they have made this ill planned and terribly timed exit from the CJHL.

While the BCHL has definitely been very successful winning roughly half of Canada’s Junior A National Championships since their inception, they have only won four out of the last ten. That is still very successful but not dominating by any means.

Fans of the BCHL are fans. They all remember the good old days. That’s why they are fans. Today though the BCHL is still a good league, from a business standpoint though, everyone needs to look at facts and realize that the BCHL of the good old days is not the BCHL of today or tomorrow.

Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser