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BCHL updates Frequently Asked Questions document regarding status as independent league

After the BCHL announced its independence on May 1, fans, players, families and other stakeholders have had additional questions from the original Frequently Asked Questions document. To clarify these points and dispel any rumours, the league has updated its FAQ to include these common inquiries.

Frequently Asked Questions (June 8 update)

With new roster rules, has the BCHL abandoned its commitment to BC-born and raised players?

No. In fact, the league has strengthened its commitment to BC-born and raised players. The BCHL has maintained its previous minimum of five British Columbians per team. This is a similar minimum to other Canadian junior leagues. The BCHL will now only consider BC players as those who were born in the province, and those who developed in the local system. Previously, under BC Hockey and Hockey Canada regulations, a player’s family could move to BC and would be considered a homegrown player.

Will BCHL rosters be full of European players now that they are permitted to join the league?

Each team will be allowed a maximum of two non-North American players.

Will the BCHL have a shortage of officials?

No. The BC Hockey League will head into next season with a full staff of officials. Many have already expressed their desire to work for the BCHL and, under the guidance of Vice President of Hockey Operations Brad Lazarowich, we will build an officiating staff large enough to work all league games next year. Our intention has always been to work with BC Hockey to ensure there is no shortage of officials, and to provide as much opportunity for officials as possible, regardless of the league they are working with on any given game night.

Will BCHL officials be allowed to work games outside of the league?

Under BC Hockey and Hockey Canada regulations, any officials that work BCHL games after Sep. 30 will not be permitted to work in Hockey Canada-sanctioned leagues. We hope this regulation changes as we anticipate it will have a negative effect on all levels of hockey, which is something we would like to avoid.

Will the BCHL’s officiating quality decrease?

No. The BCHL has a plan to make sure the league’s officiating program only gets better. The BCHL will continue to provide top-tier development for young officials in the province and we will announce more initiatives to support officials in the near future, including the fact that Jay Sharrers and Shane Heyer (current NHL officiating managers and BCHL officiating alumni) will join the league’s officiating development program.

What is the cutoff date when players would face sanctions from Hockey Canada for participating in an independent league? 

September 30th.

If players choose to play in the BCHL, will they be banned from participating in Hockey Canada-sanctioned play in the future?

Under the current Hockey Canada regulations, if a player participates in an independent league like the BCHL, they are not permitted to join a Hockey Canada-sanctioned league during that same season, after Sept. 30.

That being said, there is a reinstatement process that has proven to be successful in the past. In addition, the player would be eligible to return to Hockey Canada-sanctioned play the following season. They would also have several options in the United States should they wish to play there.

Will players that participate in a BCHL spring/summer camp face obstacles from Hockey Canada?

No. Only players that play in league games after Sep. 30 will face obstacles should they wish to return to a Hockey Canada-sanctioned league during the same season. This is a Hockey Canada and BC Hockey policy.

Will players be cut from teams late in the season and be left with nowhere to play?

The BCHL has implemented policies that reward teams for keeping players on their rosters. Expanding rosters to 25 players (plus room for a third goaltender) will reduce the likelihood that a player will be cut late in the year. These policies have been implemented because of Hockey Canada’s regulation of not allowing BCHL players to play in their system, which severely curtails a player’s options.

Is it true that BCHL officials and team staff can no longer coach their children in their minor hockey association?

Yes, BC Hockey has indicated they will prevent that from happening. Many of our teams are deeply ingrained with their local minor hockey associations. As a result, we think that the position that they are taking is going to have detrimental effects on minor hockey in this province.

Can minor hockey teams still have BCHL athletes attend practices and can those Minor Hockey players take part in pregame and intermission programming?

Unfortunately, it appears BC Hockey will prevent this from happening. The BCHL believes the relationship with our communities and minor hockey associations is imperative to the development of those young B.C. athletes. The BCHL and its 18 teams want more involvement at the grassroots level, not less.

Our insurance program covers all practices, intermission activities and promotional events for incoming participants.

Is this change a way for the league and teams to make more money?

This change has solely been about improving the player experience and increasing the standards. It has never been about the money. In fact, two years ago, the BCHL Board of Governors voted in favour of eliminating all player fees by 2025, because we think making the league better will generate revenue on its own, instead of relying on player fees to do that.

The BCHL uses the term “independent,” but BC Hockey and Hockey Canada are using “rogue” and “non-sanctioned.” What are the differences?

The term rogue and the non-sanctioned policies were created to deter and protect athletes from joining start-up leagues that may not have the professionalism and player safety measures that are rightly expected within Hockey Canada. The BCHL is one of the safest leagues in the country when it comes to our regulations, playing rules, and investments made in our Department of Player Safety. We will continue to have that as our priority.

After 61 years of operation, the BCHL is one of the safest leagues in the country. The BCHL has a proven track record and strong leadership at the league and club levels. We have contributed to the development of players with integrity and professionalism for decades and will continue to do so going forward.

Is the BCHL’s new insurance comparable to what it had with Hockey Canada?

Yes. We have partnered with one of the leading insurance brokerages in the country, Westland Insurance, to deliver a program that is relative to our previous coverages with Hockey Canada. Our program covers all operations of training, competition, and game night events for our athletes, team staff, volunteers, officials, and more. Our program includes Commercial General Liability for all participants, Directors and Officers, Abuse, Major Medical and Dental, AD&D, and Cyber coverages.

Where will the BCHL get its affiliate players from?

Affiliates may come from any independent minor/youth/high school league across North America. As per existing Hockey Canada and BC Hockey policies, the closest leagues to the BCHL (CSSHL, BCEHL, and Junior B) can no longer affiliate with the BCHL as an independent league. While we were aware of this regulation, we want to work together in the future in the best interests of the athletes.

How does a potential new Junior A league made up of current Junior B teams affect the BCHL?

It does not affect the BCHL at all. In fact, it only proves the points that the league made in its White Paper back in September regarding the need for a higher tier of college-tracking junior hockey that provides a better player experience while not charging athletes.

Is the BCHL still Junior A?

The BCHL is simply the British Columbia Hockey League. We don’t need to classify ourselves otherwise. Our goal is to provide a world-class experience to athletes pursuing education and hockey through college.

Is the BCHL worried about losing players because of becoming an independent league?

Some players decide to go in a different direction every year, no matter what the situation, but we, and our teams are confident that the standard of play and the 61-year reputation of the league will mean that players will want to return and we will attract players from all over the world.

What are the BCHL’s biggest concerns about how some members of the hockey community have reacted to the league’s departure from Hockey Canada?

We were aware of the regulations in place prior to becoming an independent league, but we continue to believe that many existing regulations do not align with what matters to young Canadian student-athletes and their families. Imposing rules or taking actions that have exclusionary effects are not in anyone’s best interests. No singular organization owns the game of hockey. The BCHL has been a contributing member of the hockey ecosystem in Canada for 61 years and that will only continue.


To view the league’s original FAQ from May 1, click here.