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NOJHL and NAHL – The scouting differences

Normally we would not try to compare leagues and talent, but after reading an article on a competing site, written from a standpoint of never having seen and NAHL game, we felt it appropriate to give an accurate account of the two leagues.

Having personally watched at least 500 NAHL games and at least 100 NOJHL games, and being that I scout both leagues regularly I feel I am in the right position to give a fair comparison of both leagues.

The NAHL is the largest Tier II Junior Hockey League in the United States, it is the only Tier II league in the United States. That is no small position, and no small accomplishment.

The NOJHL is one of many Tier II leagues in Canada. Every Province has at least one such league, some provinces such as Ontario have several.

The differences between the two leagues are subtle, yet important to note. The NAHL is known to develop players for NCAA programs as well as the USHL. The NOJHL is known for developing players for the OHL and some for NCAA programs.

Each league has its own development philosophy and development niche.

That said, the NOJHL is looking to expand its ability to develop NCAA prospects. Unfortunately the NCAA is looking to limit the ability of NCAA programs to recruit from Canadian leagues and teams. The NCAA is after all a United States system. More than a few fans have complained about NCAA teams having a majority of Canadian or other imprt players on their rosters. Who can blame those fans when many NCAA programs receive partial funding from US tax dollars?

The NOJHL and NAHL are two completely different leagues, with completely different markets. What works in Odessa will not work in Sudbury. Comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges.

In the United States, the NAHL is the league that every player is looking at if they havent been drafted into the USHL. Every Tier III or Midget player is looking at the NAHL as thier ticket to "free to play" hockey. Its their payoff on the investment of paying to play for years, its their foot in the door to a college scholarship.

The NOJHL is one of many Tier II leagues in Canada, competing for the best available players that are not going to play in the QMJHL, OHL, or WHL, as well as the best US players they can recruit. The issue for most Canadian Tier II leagues is that they do not have large budgets to scout or recruit. Not to mention that competing against the NAHL for these players is no easy task.

The NOJHL and NAHL are two very good leagues. Both leagues face challenges every year, and its no different than the challenges faced by nearly every league including the NHL. Hockey is a business, sometimes you open a business with the best intentions and for one reason or another it doesnt work. Sometimes you have the right mix of environmental factors that makes a business take off.

Some NOJHL teams look to develop players for Major Junior, some for NCAA and Canadian University hockey. Some NAHL teams look to develop for the USHL, some focus on NCAA development in their own right. The differences between the two leagues is not so much in level of play but in the team operators goals within both leagues.

So, when looking at both leagues, players and parents should not compare the leagues as a whole, but should compare individual franchises within the leagues. Scouting is not predetermined simply because of the intials on one league or another. Scouting is determined upon the individual organizations and their relationships with higher level programs.

If teams want to increase exposure for players, there is no such thing as a "one size fits all" solution that will work for anyone or everyone. There is a formula that is unique to every team in every league.

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