The OJHL’s Next Innovation – In the O’Radio


So how can the OJHL climb back into the top spot in Ontario as a Jr A developmental league… well again, this is just my opinion but earlier I rated the three Jr A loops in Ontario as CCHL, NOJHL and then the OJHL. Mainly due to the innovation or lack of.

Now unlike the OHL, the OJHL is jumping ahead of potential problems instead of merely reacting to them, OHL Onside program, but it still feels like they are losing ground.

If you are to look at the numbers, the OJHL is still far and a head of other centres. Currently on a college commitments website, not sure if I can advertise it here, for the starting year of 2017/18 and beyond, the OJHL has 29 commits right now to a D1 program. CCHL is behind with 24 and the NOJHL has 0, currently.

Now if you add in D3 commits… well then the list gets longer…. But just using the D1 metric, you see the OJHL is number 1. Not by miles, and if you go by percentages… they are behind the CCHL by miles. The CCHL has half the teams, half the players and 5 less commits to a D1 program. The CCHL has 9% of its current players with a D1 commit; the OJHL has just fewer than 6 percent… see the difference.

So lets get to the header sentence, and something that is and isn’t what some GM’s and coaches will want.

The next innovation for the OJHL is….. Two Tiered Relegation.

Maybe it is because I am starting to enjoy soccer over the past couple of years or just want to see something different with a sanctioned hockey league, but the OJHL going to a relegation system with 14 teams in pool A and 8 in pool B, or 11 and 11, or 12 and 10 even, can be a great way to shake up a stale product.

Oh and for clarification, it is stale in the GTA as is all Junior hockey, no matter what the level, sanctioned or unsanctioned.

First of all no one is doing it, second of all it separates the wannabes from the gonnabes. Now we know that current programs will never move up the chain and may forever be stuck in this limbo of being at the bottom. But lets pull a complete game show move and make it a $15,000 cash prize for the winner of the lower division and $10,000 for the runner up. Two go up and two go down.

This cash infusion will go towards the ability to buy, I mean, trade for higher end players to give you a chance to stay in the top bracket next year…

Where do they get this money? I don’t know. Good question really. A pool? Standardizing player fees so you have a fixed income and budget? Umm…. Bake sale? Those details can be worked out later. But now you have this type of development system that is high end, you can pull players up from, meanwhile there is still this incentive to put a great product on the ice and compete versus the current, well these 4 teams are going to not be good this year, then we will bring in a new GM, Owner, Coach, whatever to shake it up and change what was a good thing if you stuck it out, but instead you pulled the plug… right Orangeville?

But moving along, having this tiered system will out right promote greater internal competition and can even become a greater developmental league than the GOJHL… how so? Because it will basically be a Jr B+ league and until that A is attached… well you all know that story.

Utilizing the age groups or a different set of brackets or looking at the same equation upside down is the only way to create some type of spark in your product.

I know the attendance figures are not accurate, but they are across the board down. what was drawing a few years ago is down, even slightly, and you need to make it better with more competition knocking on the door.

Is it the right way to go? Probably not, but is it a pie in the sky idea never done before… at least in Ontario… got you there.