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Why did the BCHL not renew its agreement with Hockey Canada?

  • By taking this step as a league, the BCHL will have more autonomy and control over its own direction. This will allow the league to make decisions that are in the best interests of players, their families and its 18 teams.

  • For a comprehensive overview of the challenges, please see the document produced by the BC Hockey League’s Executive Committee and League Office outlining various ways to improve junior hockey in our country, entitled: Modernizing Junior Hockey in Canada.
  • It was sent to Hockey Canada, BC Hockey and the Governance Review Committee overseeing the examination of Hockey Canada’s structure and leadership. 

Click here to read the full document.
Click here to read a two-page summary.

What restrictions do U18 players face under the system?

We are a development league. And, under the current system, U18 players in Canada making huge decisions about their futures are restricted in their options.

  • If a player decides to keep their eligibility and play Junior A, they are restricted to playing only in their defined branch (region) under Hockey Canada (note: this isn’t a restriction for players in the CHL and the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) which includes divisions U15-U18).
  • If a U18 player does not have a competitive Junior A option in their own branch, they are often forced to leave Canada to play in the USHL or NAHL, where there are no similar restrictions, to find better competition while maintaining NCAA eligibility. 
  • What we are left with is a system that encourages Canadian U18 players with scholarship aspirations to pursue their junior hockey development in the USA.

“We believe U18 players should have two development paths in Canada – Major Junior leading to the National Hockey League (NHL) being one and college-tracking junior leading to a US college and then the NHL being the other. Both are important. Both should be supported,” said BCHL CEO Chris Hebb.

How does this benefit the players? 

  • This change will allow our league to operate without outdated restrictions. For players, this means they will have the opportunity to stay within Canada if they choose, and still find high level competition to prepare themselves for NCAA Division I or U Sports hockey. With standards being raised across the league, it will also benefit the player experience for all current and future players.

How does this benefit the fans? 

  • The BCHL’s mission is to establish a tier of junior hockey that to date has not been seen in Canada, to raise its standards, to provide more opportunities for players, and to increase the excitement level for fans.  
  • In order to continue to build a world class college tracking system for players seeking NCAA college scholarships, we need to be bold and modernize junior hockey in Canada.

 Why exactly could you not accomplish this plan within the system?

  • The regulations within Hockey Canada’s system do not allow us to grow the league the way we believe is in the best interest of college tracking players. We were asked to speak on this topic by the recent Hockey Canada governance review and are optimistic that the improvements being made will eventually create opportunities for dialogue. For more information about the Hockey Canada Governance Review by Honourable Thomas Cromwell click here

Is the BCHL still part of BC Hockey?

  • With our decision to become an independent league outside of Hockey Canada’s system, the BCHL is no longer officially a member of BC Hockey. We have been invited to be part of a junior hockey task group and look forward to continued discussions about the future of Junior A hockey in Canada.

Are you open to continuing discussions and coming back to BC Hockey or Hockey Canada?

  • We have always been open to a meaningful discussion that provides Canadian athletes with more opportunities. We will always do what’s best for athletes seeking college-tracking junior options.

Why make this change now? 

  • Becoming independent was a decision made following nearly five years of good faith efforts to find a solution within Hockey Canada’s system. BCHL owners, governors, executives, and committees thoroughly explored all options but were unable to establish meaningful discourse with the governing leadership of Hockey Canada over that period. 

Why announce this now while the playoffs are underway?

  • A change of this significance requires an extensive amount of preparation and planning for all teams and stakeholders. This will be implemented on June 1, 2023 and we had a lot of work to do and needed as much time as possible. 

Are you still considered Junior A?

  • We are simply the British Columbia Hockey League whose primary goal is to develop young athletes for the NCAA and U Sports.

Will BCHL players still have the same opportunities?

  • They will have all of the same opportunities the BCHL has provided in the past. In fact, they will have access to even more opportunities for their future success. We will also continue to lobby for our athletes to have opportunities at the national level.

Will the BCHL recruit players from outside BC?

  • Yes, the BCHL will continue to allow all players the choice of where they play, similar to the recruiting process in the NCAA.

  • In addition, we will also be able to recruit Canadian U18 players from outside of their branch, as well as from the USA and outside of North America. 

Is the BCHL still committed to developing BC-born players?

  •  Currently 97 percent of BC-born players who played NCAA Division I hockey last year played in the BCHL and we remain committed to BC player development and roster minimums will not change.

What kinds of special events will the new BCHL host? 

  • The BCHL will continue to enhance its series of events, including the potential of a post-playoff tournament that celebrates the skill level of its players. Currently the league hosts a Showcase event, Top Prospects game, Outdoor All-Star Event and a Road Show to help increase the exposure of its athletes.

What higher standards will the BCHL strive for as an Independent League?

  • The BCHL will continue to use its new scorecard system with the goal to make improvements that will ultimately benefit all teams and the league as a whole. The scorecard was implemented in 2021 and covers all areas of team operations, including hockey operations, business standards and facility infrastructure.

Is the BCHL becoming a pay-to-play league now?

  • As part of the four-year plan, the BCHL has already voted to gradually eliminate player fees across the league by 2025. 

Does the BCHL still have insurance for players?

  • Yes. The BCHL’s insurance broker is Westland Insurance. Through the process, a comprehensive insurance plan for all players, teams, and staff was created under the guidance of Mark Woodall who has worked with many amateur and professional sports clients including the Canadian Football League. 

How will this affect on-ice officials?

  • The BCHL has committed to increase compensation for its officials and our Director of Player Safety and Officiating, Brad Lazarowich, is working closely with referees and linespeople to recognize their contributions to our league, while not interfering with their ability to officiate other levels of hockey.

What due diligence and governance is now in place to support players and the league? 

  • We are going to implement measures to include a robust concussion management program, criminal record and background checks for all personnel, a comprehensive registration platform and database, education to promote healthy relationships, safe sport, abuse and maltreatment prevention training, emergency medical certification, mental health resources, addiction education, media training, language and inclusivity training, player safety initiatives, coach certification, and officials certification. With such comprehensive measures in place, the BCHL is committed to providing a safe, positive, and inclusive environment for all involved in our league.

How will this affect transactions between leagues?

  • The BCHL will explore new transfer agreements with similar leagues to allow transactions to take place.