CHL meat market must stop
Junior franchises should not be treating young players like they are 30-year-old NHL vets
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
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.
Canadian junior defenceman Noah Dobson, was dealt last week from Acadie-bathurst to Rouyn-noranda, franchises that are 1,400 kilometres apart.