CHL meat mar­ket must stop

Ju­nior fran­chises should not be treat­ing young play­ers like they are 30-year-old NHL vets

StarMetro Halifax - - SPORTS - Damien Cox SPE­CIAL TO THE STAR Get the full col­umn at thes­tar.com/hockey

It’s that time of year again, when we can all sit back in ut­ter amaze­ment at the non­sense ma­jor ju­nior hockey fran­chises of­ten get away with in this coun­try.

As is the tra­di­tion, there has been a flurry of trans­ac­tions in re­cent weeks as many of the 60 teams in the Cana­dian Hockey League, be­hav­ing like mini-nhl fran­chises rather than de­vel­op­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions for am­a­teur stu­dent-ath­letes that they in­sist they are, barter in teenage hockey horse­flesh while pur­su­ing cham­pi­onships and prof­its.

Play­ers as young as 15 have been traded in re­cent weeks, shipped to new teams hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres away or across the bor­der to the United States. In fact, more top stars will be traded in the CHL this sea­son than in the NHL de­spite the fact ma­jor ju­nior play­ers re­main un­paid.

The salary cap re­strains NHL teams. Noth­ing re­strains ma­jor ju­nior fran­chises.

The CHL, which in­cludes the On­tario Hockey League, West­ern Hockey League and Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League, has been cleaned up con­sid­er­ably over the past 20 years. But in many ways, it still main­tains the same ar­chaic struc­ture.

That struc­ture al­lows play­ers, many of whom aren’t old enough to vote or legally drink al­co­hol, to be traded in the mid­dle of the sea­son and school year. You could do it in

1970, and you can still do it in

2018.

So a 16-year-old play­ing fourth-line min­utes and at­tend­ing Grade 11 might wake up and find he’s been traded from Prince Ge­orge to Bran­don, Char­lot­te­town to Shaw­ini­gan, or Sar­nia to Sault Ste. Marie.

Th­ese are ju­nior fran­chises that are op­er­ated for profit but don’t pay their play­ers. In­stead, they of­fer room and board, pro­vide hockey ex­penses and post-sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion pack­ages, and also re­tain the right to trade play­ers

any­where within their league, some­times without the con­sent of the player and his fam­ily.

It’s been go­ing on for decades. Many NHL stars were once traded as ju­niors, in­clud­ing cur­rent Leafs John Tavares and Nazem Kadri. In re­cent weeks, sev­eral play­ers who skated for Canada at the world ju­nior hockey cham­pi­onships — goalie Mike Dipi­etro, de­fence­man Markus Phillips, and for­wards Macken­zie En­twhis­tle and Owen Tip­pett — have been traded. De­fence­man Noah Dob­son was dealt last week from Acadie-bathurst to Rouyn-no­randa, QMJHL fran­chises that are 1,400 kilo­me­tres apart.

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Cana­dian ju­nior de­fence­man Noah Dob­son, was dealt last week from Acadie-bathurst to Rouyn-no­randa, fran­chises that are 1,400 kilo­me­tres apart.

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