Jr A Primer in Ontario – CCHL – Brandon Sudeyko

We spoke about the NOJHL last week and now it is on to the ‘rebel’ league of Ontario and that is the CCHL. The Eastern Ontario based league is not a ‘rebel’ in the same way you talk about ‘outlaw’ leagues, but a ‘rebel’ league as in they are doing it there way.

And isn’t that the great thing about Marty Abrams right now. The Commissioner of the CCHL and CCHL2, is taking a new approach to development in Canada and you have to admit, it is working to a tee.

How is it working to a tee? Well let’s take a look at the positives and the negatives of the CCHL, CCHL2 and the HEO program

  1. September Showcase – What a great way to kick off the season. Not only are you putting all of your teams in one place to be viewed, you are the first league to begin the year and thus you are the only competition at the moment. When I attended years ago this was a fantastic event. 12 teams, two games a piece and a great way to begin the grind of a season.
  2. September Showcase – What a negative way to start the season. Rosters are not set, you have teams coming out of training camp and you have a lot of false stars. That is what you get with a September Showcase to kick off your season.
  3. CCHL2 and HEO – The US has a similar structure where a franchise has multiple age groups: 11u, 13u, 15u, 17u, 18u then the big club. The CCHL2 and HEO fill this ‘need’ and ‘desire’ for development change. In the first full season as an ‘umbrella’ league 22 HEO Midget players made the jump to the CCHL. That is a full team. Consider that the CCHL is a 12 team league, those 22 players from HEO Midget who made the jump is 8.3% of the league. That is pretty positive development in your backyard.
  4. HEO Midget – as a whole this is a great extension from the Minor Midget system that currently exists. In Southern Ontario, I have had several chats with many people about the ‘broken’ Midget system in the GTHL, SCTA and ETA. Broken may not be the best word to use, but when you consider the coverage and attention and ‘disappointment’ it is to be playing Midget opposed to Jr C, B or Jr A, the HEO Midget program is making Midget hockey cool again. And don’t forget that 12 of the 16 teams in the league are connected to the CCHL, at least in name only.
  5. Too Much hockey – yes this is a negative. There is too much hockey to get a handle of. If you love watching Jr hockey, no matter what level and want to make sure you cover all of your bases on players, teams and leagues and those oh so important hidden gems in these leagues, then this system of CCHL, CCHL2 and HEO Midget is just too much.
  6. The biggest positive that Marty Abrams created by blending three leagues under one umbrella is keeping local players at home. Want to have a strong hold on player development, keep it in your back yard. Commissioner Abrams has done that with the system he created in Eastern Ontario. A funnel of the best of the best into one of the best Jr A leagues in the Nation.

Just like the NOJHL article, there will be a follow up with Commissioner Marty Abrams about his league, both of them and the HEO Midget program. Hopefully we can discuss what he attempts to accomplish as this venture continues to thrive and what pressures, if any, other leagues are getting because of the success. It is a real shame that I reside in Southern Ontario and not out East, it would be great to see everything in one location and save a lot of gas money.

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