The BCHL thought leaving the CJHL was a good idea in 2022, and they thought leaving Hockey Canada was an even better idea in 2023.
What has happened in player recruiting is not what the BCHL expected. Gone are the AAA afiliate players. Gone are the players sent down from the WHL. Gone are the players from the CSSHL.
Players from the BCHL are being recruited to the United States in the USHL, NAHL and NCDC. And they are going to those leagues and teams. The BCHL players are also being recruited across all of the other Canadian Junior A leagues as they look for the opportunity to play for a National Championship and in the World Junior A Challenge.
The over hyped ability to recruit players from Europe and Asia has resulted in what are largely second, third and fourth tier players signing in the BCHL. Top players are not coming to the BCHL, they simply don’t need to when scouting in Europe’s top junior leagues is actually better than in the BCHL.
While BCHL recruiting in the United States and Ontario has definitely worked to a limited extent, the BCHL is not getting the top players from those areas either.
With the recent actions of BC Hockey creating 45 new sanctioned Junior A programs, the BCHL has a new set of problems to deal with when recruiting.
With the creation of these new Junior A teams under Hockey Canada, the AAA players can affiliate with these programs. The CSSHL players can go to these programs and the WHL has already stated their support for this new creation and that where WHL cuts will be going.
Why would any player now leave their home town that has one of these new Junior A teams for the BCHL when the BCHL isn’t going to be getting Western Canada’s best young prospects?
Why would any player risk a Hockey Canada suspension to play in the new experimental version of the BCHL?
Are top level AAA players going to play in the BCHL affiliated non sanctioned U18 and U16 league? No. Why would they limit themselves?
While BC Hockey did not handle the Junior A expansion correctly, it is having the desired effect. Top players will gravitate toward sanctioned hockey.
The BC Hockey move to create 45 more Junior A teams in Canada has in effect cut the BCHL off before it was able to really consolidate its recruiting efforts. These new Junior A teams know hw to manipulate the Hockey Canada system player recruiting restrictions just like the BCHL did.
One thing that is for sure is that the 45 new Junior A teams will definitely focus on developing players from British Columbia and not just play lip service to the concept. They have been doing it for years.
Sanctioned or unsanctioned? That is the question. The answer will be given by the people in short order.