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NHL Lockout Ending And The Effect On Junior Hockey

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NHL Lockout Ending And The Effect On Junior Hockey December 31, 2012 8:28 AM

As we are on the eve of the new year, we may also be on the eve of a new deal. It looks as though the NHL Players believe the lockout will be ending shortly. Several players in the KHL, DEL, SEL and AHL have already begun making travel arrangements based upon the information provided to them from the NHLPA.

One source within the NHLPA said he thinks there is a deal to be made in the next day or two and that he expects training camp to open within the next 10 days with games beginning on the 18th. Reportedly the sides are closer than before and some are saying that the NHL owners latest proposal was very close to being acceptable.

The jumpstarter to the process? The World Junior Championships. Owners are seeing what their teams are missing, and players are seeing what they are missing. In the end, players and owners both want to play.

It appears more likely than not that the NHL will get underway. How that will effect junior hockey once that happens needs to be thought about.

Once NHL camps open a vacum will be created. This vacum will begin with Major Junior and flow through every other level of hockey.

Once camps open, NHL draft picks will leave their junior teams to attend NHL training camps. This will require that the junior teams loosing players, call up players from the next levels down. It will mean that Tier II will call up Tier III and Midget players that are affiliated will get called up as well.

On its face this may seem great and would excite players and parents. Thought needs to take place now. What if a Tier II player is now getting some interest from NCAA programs? Accepting that call up, knowing it may be temporary and only last a week or two, will end that NCAA interest.

How many players will be effected by this? Guess work would lead me to believe that between 300 and 400 players will be put into a position where they are going to have to make decisions on their future in short order as it relates to a temporary call up to Major Junior teams.

There are 60 Major Junior teams and NHL picks from the last two or three drafts will be brought in to NHL taining camps at least temporarily. Those moves will create a lot of moves that will trickle down to every level. It may also have a limited effect on USHL players, but will primarily effect Canadians and Europeans.

Parents and players should be thinking about what they want to do now. Do not leave it to a last minute decision. Have a plan, stick to it, and be prepared to face the consequences either way.

Assuming the lockout ends and we experience the vacum, look for the next agenda item to be renewal of the NHL – CHL Development Agreement.

By Joseph Kolodziej

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