The CCHL markets itself as a Tier I Junior A hockey league in Canada, something that no other Canadian Junior A league does. Its approach essentially mirrors the USHL approach in the United States when it comes to marketing its teams to players. The difference being that the CCHL does have a pay to play business model while the USHL does not.
The CCHL is producing NCAA Division 1 and 3 hockey players at an astonishing rate over the last few seasons. Lead by the Carleton Place Canadians who regularly lose nearly half of their roster each season to NCAA commitments, and Head Coach Jason Clarke doesn’t mind reloading the roster every summer.
The EOJHL has been a rock solid Junior B development league for years. Regularly moving players up to Junior A, and on to Canadian University as well as the NCAA.
Change is coming for both leagues as the EOJHL becomes a Tier II league to the CCHL Tier 1 league next season.
In what will be one of the first official development structures between Junior A and B leagues, the CCHL is showing they want to continue to innovate the Junior Hockey development model, and the EOJHL wants to continue to develop players and move them on to higher levels.
With that change though their will be some pain. Several smaller communities currently enjoying the EOJHL Junior B play will be looking for new opportunity as they will not be involved in the switch. That opportunity is likely to come at the Junior C level while it is possible they could form their own Junior B league.
This development model is unique in Canada, and in the United States. The USHL does use the NAHL for some of its development, while much of it comes from the Midget AAA ranks within the Tier 1 Elite League and the High Performance League. We could not find another Canadian Junior A league with an official development Junior B league.
While many of the details remain unclear, announcements are expected to be made as the CCHL and EOJHL wind up their seasons.
You have to wonder why more of these types of development agreements aren’t made on both sides of the border. It does make sense, and does follow in line with the rest of Hockey Canada and USA Hockey’s development models. It is essentially no different from when a Bantam AAA player moves up to Midget AAA within the same organization. Continuity of systems, expectations, coaching styles and expectations create stability for both the player and the organization.
The NHL has the AHL and the ECHL below it. It is a system that has proven to develop players at every level.
Major Junior teams regularly send players to Junior A, and sign players from Junior A yet there are no official agreements in place we were able to find other than compensation amounts. It only makes sense to streamline and further define the development system at the Junior level.
TJHN will update this story as more information becomes available.