As TJHN has reported, the BCHL has made their move and is leaving Hockey Canada. On April 3, TJHN reported that the BCHL would likely make this move. The Death Pool – BCHL Looking To Leave Hockey Canada
Effective June 1, 2023, the BCHL will become completely independent of Hockey Canada. This move is designed for no other purpose really than to raid the development pools of the United States and the Provinces east of British Columbia.
This will also open the door for the BCHL to sign international players from Europe. A move that the CJHL and the rest of Canadian Junior A have not made, though have discussed over the years. This opening of European, Russian, and Asian player markets could in theory have a great impact on the BCHL.
The BCHL is a good league, but many would argue now that the AJHL has overtaken them in depth of player talent and competition.
It was only two years ago that the BCHL left the CJHL, the group of Tier II or Junior A leagues in Canada. Wanting to be identified by Hockey Canada as Tier I as one of the critical factors for leaving the CJHL.
While the BCHL is pumping the tires on this move, the move itself will create more competition for the BCHL. As much as the BCHL will look to raid other player pools, the same will happen to them from all of the CJHL leagues and the Tier II leagues in the USA.
Leaving Hockey Canada removes the BCHL from the Hockey Canada protections. Namely the USA Hockey/Hockey Canada Transfer Agreement. That agreement was the protection in place for all leagues that spelled out how transfers were made between the two countries.
In theory, now the NAHL and NCDC can raid BCHL rosters along with the rest of the CJHL in Canada. And while the BCHL thinks this is some magic recruiting pill, there is likely going to be a lot of pushback from both sides of the border.
Lets also remember, every BCHL team is not equal. Only a few BCHL teams are free to play. And part of this move is designed, without explanation, to get all teams to a free to play model within four years.
While the BCHL wants to be Tier I, it is not. It does not come close to rivaling the USHL in talent level or financial commitment, and it is not on the same financial footing as the NAHL. The BCHL is not on the same financial footing as the NCDC either.
The BCHL is claiming that they hope this move will lead to more NCAA and Canadian University commitments. This is a mythical claim. NCAA programs simply are spending less and traveling less to British Columbia and Canada in general.
As yourself the common sense question. If you are running a NCAA program, are you going to spend a few thousand dollars to fly a coach out to British Columbia, or are you going to spend a tank of gas and have him drive to Boston, Detroit or Chicago?
Scouting budgets at the NCAA level have been restricted since the start of COVID and that is not going to change any time soon.
The number of Canadian players getting NCAA scholarships has been declining. It will continue to decline because NCAA programs know they simply do not have to look outside of the US for quality players. So while the BCHL claims all of these commitments, the truth behind those claims is not what it would appear to be.
The overwhelming majority of BCHL NCAA commitments are from US born players who have their commitments before playing a game in the BCHL.
While the BCHL would like to claim to develop players from British Columbia, they simply do not. Their roster numbers show the majority of players are not from British Columbia.
Which ever side of this debate you choose, one thing is for sure, this is a big and bold move. This is a move that could completely backfire on the BCHL and see their rosters raided by teams in the USA and the stronger leagues in the CJHL.
The summer free agent recruiting season is about to get real interesting.