The Effect Of The NHL Lockout Ending On Junior Hockey

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The Effect Of The NHL Lockout Ending On Junior Hockey December 7, 2012 7:37 AM

I dont think any hockey fan will be disappointed when the NHL lockout ends. The last three months without the NHL have been frustrating for fans, owners, and players. We all know the lockout will end eventually, this month or next year, it will eventually be over.

With the NHL and NHLPA looking like they may come to a resolution and be back on the ice in the next few weeks, well at least thats what some are saying, many junior teams at every level are preparing for the nearly immediate roster changes that will effect them. Many may not see that the NHL and ending the lockout can have a direct roster impact on all levels of hockey down to Midget programs.

If and when the NHL opens camp, many players from the three Major Junior Leagues in Canada will be joining the teams that drafted them. Those players can play in exhibition games if there are any, and as many as 9 regular season games. If they play in 10 reular season games, the player then must stay with the NHL club.

Dozens of players will be leaving their Major Junior teams to attend NHL camps. TJHN estimates the number of junior aged players attending NHL camps will be close to 100 or more.

Junior teams loosing that many players will need to immediately fill those roster spots on at least a temporary basis. That is a minimum of 100 players called up from Tier II hockey throughout North America.

The problem?

Players being called up to replace those attending NHL camps will immediately have to make the decision on whether or not NCAA hockey remains an option for them. Many players drafted by Major Junior teams playing Tier II hockey still maintain their NCAA eligibility. Having that option serves many players well as they can determine their own fate.

If called up though, that player will loose his eligibility within 48 hours of the call up if they spend more than 48 hours with the Major Junior Team, or if they play in one regular season game.

Assuming some will take this chance, what happens if they do not perform well enough? What happens if they are sent back down to their Tier II team and the Major Junior team never brings them back? The NCAA option is out the window.

Lets assume at least a few dozen players or more make their NHL teams.

That will create at least a few dozen openings in rosters throughout Major Junior. Those openings will be filled by calling up players from Tier II programs and recruiting players who may have been drafted by a Major Junior Team that are playing in the USHL.

In turn, those teams loosing players to call ups to Major Junior will look to other Tier II and Tier III programs to fill their vacant roster spots. Those teams will then look to Midget and High School players to fill their needs.

A vacum will be created almost immediately.

The flip side to that problem will be players who went up to major junior teams will then be sent back down when the NHL clubs send players back. The vacum will be reveresed and players will be sent down at every level.

Preparing for an NHL season while in the middle of the junior season this year creates many questions. Parents and players need to be prepared. Preparation comes through knowledge. Understand the rules, and know what to expect and you will be better prepared to make the right decision in a condensed time frame.

What many in junior organizations and the NHL have not thought of is that this can not happen after the trading and signing deadlines set by USA Hockey and Hockey Canada.

Once the signing and movement deadlines are reached, players cant move without loosing playoff eligibility, and most can not move at all unless they are an affiliated player. Not that the NHL cares about how it has and will continue to effect junior hockey, but I would bet that they do know about these deadlines, and they will play a part on whether or not we see the NHL this season.

By Joseph Kolodziej

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