Major Changes Coming For EJHL

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Major Changes Coming For EJHL December 24, 2012 8:23 AM

December 21st came and went and apparently the world will keep moving along despite the Myan appocolypse predictions. The same may not be true for the Eastern Junior Hockey League.

The EJHL is considered by many in the hockey community to be the best Tier III junior hockey league in the country. That thought process would appear to be justified considering the amount of players that eventualy play NCAA hockey that have played in the league.

The EJHL is set to loose four teams to the newly minted USPHL. That is if the USPHL gets off the ground. There is some question as to whether or not this new league will receive approval from USA Hockey, and if not there is a possibility that these teams may form their league under AAU.

The loss of four teams alone is enough to make any league nervous. Loosing arguably the top four teams in the league as it relates to player development would be a problem needing immediate attention.

Another rumor coming out of the east coast has additional teams leaving the EJHL for another option as well. While details are sketchy at this time, four additional teams are said to be exploring other options. If this is true, the now 14 team league could be down to 6 teams next season.

The EJHL South would now have a much greater value to the EJHL as full members under this scenario. The 8 member EJHL South could represent the EJHL’s ability to maintain the league at 14 members.

Another rumor has the EJHL offering several of the "stronger" Atlantic Junior Hockey League teams membership within the league. Some of the AJHL’s top teams would be competitive in the EJHL as it is currently and this would represent little change in the current EJHL footprint.

While making the EJHL South teams full members after working with them the last two years would make sense on its face. Keeping travel costs low with the addition of AJHL teams within their current footprint would make the most financial sense.

Does the EJHL make a play for the Great Lakes Division of the Minnesota Junior Hockey League? Owners and Coaches within the MNJHL have made themselves clear that they are not happy with how the league is being run. The Great Lakes teams feel as though they were mislead in how they would be treated by the MNJHL teams when made affiliates of the MNJHL.

The Great Lakes teams entered into the affiliation agreement being told that after a year they could apply for full membership. Last month, the MNJHL informed the Great Lakes teams that they would only accept three new "full member" teams per year. "Full member" teams are those with voting rights within the league. While "affiliate teams" can play within the league they are not allowed to vote. The reason this new policy was enacted by the MNJHL is to maintain voting power within the league. One Great Lakes team owner called the action "a collusion and anti trust violation. There are a group of owners who are in control and all vote together. Allowing all of us in would have changed that."

The Great Lakes teams could join the EJHL as a mid west division or they could simply go back to operating their own league. One thing is clear though, the Great Lakes teams feel deceived and are exploring all options. Several owners have said they see value in joining the EJHL as a mid west division.

The world may not have ended, but it is certainly changing.

By Joseph Kolodziej

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