OJHL Contraction

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OJHL Contraction

The Ontario Junior Hockey League had another season of great change in 2010-11 and due to strong leadership and a hard-working, forward-thinking membership; the OJHL has better positioned the league more so than it has been in a number of years. Fewer teams, combined with a number of new initiatives and an improved relationship with the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA) have left the OJHL as not only the largest Junior ‘A’ league in the CJHL, but one of the strongest in the country.

Dropping to 31 teams entering the 2010-11 season, moving to 27 teams for the 2011-12 season, and now moving toward 24 teams for the 2012-13 season. The OJHL has been aggressive in contraction, while equally as aggressive in improving nearly every aspect of the league and its member teams. To date, 138 OJHL players from the 2010-11 season have confirmed their commitments to advance their hockey careers at the next level. The breakdown of commitments is as follows: NCAA Division I 56, NCAA Division III 45, CIS 18, CHL 19.

Additionally, Two OJHL players were selected in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft; Brennan Serville of the Stouffville Spirit was selected in the 3rd round, 78th overall by the Winnipeg Jets, the highest selected CJHL player, Scott Wilson of the Georgetown Raiders was selected in the 7th round, 209th overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The OJHL looks to be moving toward 24 teams through another series of buy outs and mergers as was conducted in the summer of 2011. Several offers have already been made to ownership groups. the question remains of just who will accept those offers.

Huntsville looks to be the only sure team to accept the offer, others, could be Orangeville, Pickering, or Brampton. Although no team will go on the record as saying they have agreed or will agree to accept the contraction offer, some team officials did admit to listening to those offers.

Clearly contraction has worked in the OJHL to improve the level of play. Although the by product is a reduced opportunity for some players to develop within the circuit, not every player should be developing at this level. The Canadian Hockey League should however look at each teams geographical location when looking at contraction as well. The NOJHL for instance could certainly benefit from the addition of at least one team if for no other reason than to get back to eight members. Call it realignment if you will.

While the OJHL continues to contract, its United States counterpart the NAHL looks to continue to expand. When looking at both of these league directions, would the NAHL and USA Hockey be served to increase the import player limit in order to attract some of the better players that will be left without places to play through OJHL contraction?

Stay tuned as we continue to follow this developing story.

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