BCHL Leaving CJHL – The Big Problems And Fallout

The BCHL is on its own. They are making all their own decisions and are responsible for all the consequences that come with that position.

Leaving the CJHL presents many challenges for the BCHL, BC Hockey and Hockey Canada. It really doesn’t cause many problems for the CJHL though, and it may have just eliminated the CJHL’s biggest problem, BCHL ego.

The fact is the BCHL is a league with no “label” it is not “Junior A”, “Junior B” or anything else until BC Hockey gives them a label. Yes, leagues are not responsible for giving themselves their own description. They are just the BCHL now, and they might just remain that.

See BC Hockey is a “Branch” within Hockey Canada. If BC Hockey makes a determination of what the BCHL is, or what the BCHL does, all the other “Branches” get to vote on it. Meaning Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland, and the other Provinces and territories get a say in whether the BC Hockey proposed rule or change gets approved.

Who thinks that BC Hockey is going to get approval from enough “Branches” to give the BCHL special treatment, a new label, or special designation? Not a chance.

The BCHL left the CJHL, and clearly did so with out thinking everything completely through.

By leaving the CJHL, the BCHL does not have protection from CJHL members in “Development Fee” or cash trades. The CJHL members have a “cap” on these transactions at $5000 per player. Now, CJHL member teams can charge BCHL member teams how ever much they want to “buy” a player on their CJHL roster. And those prices just went pretty high according to several CJHL teams.

By leaving the CJHL, the BCHL also does not get the CJHL assistance in enforcing trades that have stipulations to them like future considerations, or a player to be named later. Those deals with CJHL members are likely to vanish, and CJHL members will want all compensation from BCHL teams immediately.

And they should want it immediately because the BCHL shouldn’t want anything from CJHL member teams. After all they left the CJHL to be on their own, let them stay on their own.

By leaving the CJHL, the BCHL is not eligible to participate in CJHL events. No international events, no regional or National Championships. Sure they can have their own Championship, they always do.

But players, especially the American players the BCHL needs so desperately, they want to play for National Championships and international events. This is one of the biggest reasons they head north of the border to play. Without that, the BCHL has shot themselves in the foot for American player recruiting.

The BCHL, also just hurt their ability to recruit or get players to approve trades from other provinces. Canadian players want to play for National Championships and in international events. Give up playing in Ontario to head out west, and not have those events? I don’t see too many players going that route.

The BCHL alone is not going to be able to attract the “scouting” that the CJHL does as a group.

Beyond the CJHL members though, now the BCHL will be directly competing with the WHL for top prospect players in Western Canada. Unless the BCHL switches modes to a WHL development model, the WHL isn’t going to be helping them out too much. Maybe that is the way for them to go, because NCAA recruiting has evolved and there is not as much in Canada as there once was.

While the BCHL had a leading number of NCAA commitments in Canada over the years, it is not indicative of the quality of players in the rest of the CJHL. Not all CJHL leagues and teams are trying to develop NCAA players.

Most, if not a majority of teams in Ontario and Quebec are in the business of developing OHL and QMJHL players first, and NCAA players second. Who leads Canada in development of Major Junior players? It’s not the BCHL.

This is where the BCHL’s ego becomes undeserving. This is where the BCHL looses credibility in their argument of saying they are better than the rest, or that they develop more players than the rest.

I could easily make the argument that the GOJHL, a “Junior B” league is a better development league than the BCHL simply based on how many players they develop for the OHL, Canadian University, Junior A, and NCAA. The BCHL even trades for players from the GOJHL, that’s how good the GOJHL is at development.

I could argument that the BCHL based on all the trades it makes to acquire players from CJHL teams and leagues, only “buys” player development. A strong argument that money buys players and those players inflate development claims can easily be made.

Where are all the Western Canada players the BCHL develops?

Out of more than 542 BCHL players in 2019-2020, only 278 of them came from British Columbia. 146 came from the United States, and 118 came from other Canadian Provinces.

Turn off the pipeline from the rest of Canada and the United States and the BCHL becomes what exactly?

Why would the BCHL want, and propose a rule change to allow them to recruit U-18 and U-16 players outside of British Columbia if they are doing such a great job at developing their own BC are players?

The biggest problem the BCHL has though is the BCHL.

A business, any business, is not what the business thinks it is, it is what it’s customers think the BCHL is. The BCHL has forgotten that the players, and its fans are its customers.

Many people think I don’t like the BCHL because I have been critical of this move they have made. That is an uneducated and baseless opinion. For years I have directed players to the BCHL and other CJHL leagues. It was not so long ago that some Canadian teams had half of their rosters through my company.

What I am critical of, is people who put themselves before their publicly stated mission. I am critical of people who put their ego’s before the needs of the players. I am critical of anyone who thinks bragging is a positive thing to do. I am critical of people who think that money can influence everything and that because they have more than the other guy they are somehow better.

The BCHL is on their own. Its what they wanted. Now the CJHL members are generally happy they won’t have to deal with the BCHL’s power plays within the CJHL constantly.

Strength is usually found in numbers. Now the BCHL is competing against everyone in Canada and everyone in the United States for “Tier II” or “Junior A” level players. Good luck with that.

Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser