4 New Full Members Welcomed to the MnJHL
The MnJHL annual meeting took place on May 3rd in St. Paul, MN. Owners, coaches came from all across the Midwest to attend. Several items were on the agenda to be considered for next season and many of which are still being followed up on as I write this article. I had wanted to wait until some decisions were finalized, but I will fill in the details when they come to light. For more on this make sure to follow @MnJHL on Twitter.
The first matter of business was to induct the newest full league members. Last season as many of you may, or may not know, the Great Lakes Division teams were known as affiliates of the MnJHL. This upcoming season the St. Louis Frontenacs, Tri City Icehawks, Wooster Oilers, and Jr Jackets (formally the Wisconsin Rampage) will all be full official members of the MnJHL. This gives them rights to vote on all league matters whereas last year they were only able to vote on divisional matters.
Soon after becoming full members there was a motion to have the Great Lakes Division renamed to the Central Division. This motion carried which means starting next year the Central Division will be represented for the first time in the MnJHL. The same 8 teams will participate in the division as last season, which saw the top team from the division (Marquette Royales) win the MnJHL Championship in their first year. This division proved to be a quality addition to the MnJHL and the future continues to be bright. Both divisions’ officers were decided giving each a president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. League scheduling meeting has been dated back until June meetings as teams are looking over options like when to end the regular season and whether or not to have two showcases (inter-division matches).
Several other topics where discussed, but many of them are pending research and approval from the league. Several factors are being looked into with the goal of ensuring a quality league on and off the ice. The website team from IGIN made an appearance to discuss with teams what they disliked and liked, as well as what improvements that were desired. Officiating is being accessed to ensure the safety and consistency of calls on the ice. Apparel options for teams were presented and are being looked at to help teams with several good quality merchandise options for their players, and fans.
Some appointments where made in the meeting and the first one on the docket was that of MnJHL Commissioner Mike Staloch for another season, which passed unanimously. A second appointment was made of Dean Brandt who will now be the Director of Game Operations. His duties will be to coordinate the officiating schedule and ensure the development of officials. Another main focus of his will be to ensure officials are being consistent and unbiased on their calls. USA hockey was unanimously voted in as the register for the league. Scott Brand was voted in as the assistant commissioner for another season.
Two other interesting motions were approved. The first was the motion that one individual may not have financial interest in, or be involved in, the operating procedure of more than one member or affiliate organization of the MnJHL. Basically no conflict of interest can be pursued. This is a measure that was made to ensure the integrity between teams is kept. The other interesting motion that was approved was that the league would explore the possibility of having four (rather than two) imports per team. At this time, this is an exploration motion, but if the league can have four imports per team this presents an opportunity for more foreign-born kids to come play in the MnJHL.
Perhaps the biggest factor that players will be talking about is the new MnJHL Cup that will be purchased soon. In previous years the MnJHL played for the Bush Cup, which is now going to be the cup awarded to the MN Division, while the Central Division will also have their own, and then each division will play for the MnJHL Cup in the championship game. The cool thing about this, the championship team will have possession of two cups before they even set foot out to nationals. Also the new trophy will bring a much needed update and modernation of the leagues most prized possesion. As for the Bush Cup, currently it is being held in Marquette with the 2013-2014 Champions Royales. Next year it will be brought back for the MN Division winner. Also the players of the year will be awarded with plaques of their accomplishments this past season. 3 banners will be made for the two division champions (for the Dells Ducks & Marquette Royales) and one playoff championship banner (for the Royales). These banners will be raised at the beginning of the season this fall along side with their final four banners from this years’ MnJHL final four in Oregon, WI.
The final topic that is being looked into is rather interesting for scouts, families, and players. Last year all 16 MnJHL teams met in Rochester, MN where the Ice Hawks hosted a 4 game set for each team to open the year. This showcase of the league was at the beginning of the season which is a time when many scouts have not yet begun their prospecting for the following year. Next season a second showcase is being discussed for sometime before the holiday break, however several logistical situations must be figured out to have this happen. A common reasoning for wanting two showcases was the opinion that one in the beginning of the season may not draw as many scouts as desired. Having a second showcase towards the middle would draw more scouts because it is near the signing time of the year as they have a good chunk of the season to evaluate.This has not yet been approved as with the growth of the league, several hundred miles separates some teams causing for an increased travel expense if this was approved. For some a second showcase may simply be out of the budget as many teams believe in trying to keep the price for players as small as possible.
From a reporters prospective the meeting was a lot of fun. I got to meet many people who I have had the pleasure of talking with on the phone several times and it was great to put a face to the name. The league is built around great people who all value the development of players. Not one representative said a thing that was unproductive to bettermint the league for the players in mind. I was pleasantly surprised when the meeting concluded and seen people shaking hands with big smiles. Especially after several hours of what one could call productive argument. The MnJHL will be entering the 40th season next year and has a lot to be proud of. 40 years of developing players to play at the next level and with the successful growth of the league in recent years another strong 40 years appears to be on the horizon.