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OPINION – Chilliwack Minor Hockey Association Cuts Ties with Chilliwack Chiefs

Chilliwack (with files from Chilliwack Hockey News, Black Press) – There has been fallout since the BCHL ( Chilliwack Chiefs, Langley Rivermen et al) cut ties with Hockey Canada and ventured out as an independent league.

The BCHL continues to foster relationships with NCAA Hockey and help players get US hockey scholarships.

According to published reports, The Chilliwack Minor Hockey Association have cut all ties with the Chiefs due to the separation. The British Columbia Hockey League is not sanctioned under BC Hockey or Hockey Canada.

The separation for CHMA includes Timbits intermission games as well as any other activities between CMHA and the Chilliwack Chiefs.

CMHA teams are not allowed to attend Chiefs games as a team or participate in other events.

Instead of the Chiefs, CMHA teams are being asked to participate in activities related to the Pacific Junior Hockey League’s Chilliwack Jets or the American Hockey League’s Abbotsford Canucks.

Former Chilliwack Mayor Clint Hames has weighed into this controversy. Hames is a staunch supporter of local hockey on all levels and was part of the team that built the (now) Chilliwack Coliseum, then Prospera Centre. That included the original BCHL Chiefs (now Langley) and the WHL Bruins, who moved to Victoria.

On Social Media , Hames commented:

Hockey Canada’s approach to the BCHL’s decision to leave is appalling on every level. Instead of actually looking at the issues which caused the BCHL to leave their system, instead of addressing the CHL’s growing inability to compete with the USHL’s development programs and instead of actually giving young hockey players a legitimate choice of pursuing the NHL or a scholarship opportunity with an NCAA program, they declare war on the BCHL and force local minor hockey associations to abandon ties with their local teams with the bogus claims that there is an insurance liability. I’m sure there are arguments on both sides of this debate. The purpose of my writing is not to pick sides, it is to highlight Hockey Canada’s mishandling of this issue and their completely inappropriate declaration of war on the BCHL. Instead of sitting down with the BCHL, they ignored repeated requests to dialogue and, instead, used a water bomber to extinguish a campfire. In doing so, they have forced a wedge between local BCHL teams and their community. What’s gone? No more “Tim Bits” intermission hockey where kids feel like they’ve hit the big time playing on the big ice in front of thousands of adoring fans. No more free hockey if you wear your minor hockey jersey to the he game. No more honouring a minor hockey referee with a skate around before the game. No more honouring a kid as the 7th “man” and skating out with the team. How petty have Hockey Canada become? If you work for a BCHL team, or officiate games, you are ineligible to coach or help with your child’s minor hockey team. That’s how petty.

Why is Hockey Canada ignoring this issue? The status quo heavily favours the CHL (WHL, OHL and QMJHL). BCHL has been asking Hockey Canada to review the requirement that U-18 players can only play Junior “A” hockey in their province of residence, while the CHL has no restrictions. This forces U-18 players who wish to play at a high level into the CHL. Unfortunately, playing in the CHL eliminates the player’s opportunity to be eligible for NCAA scholarships. Because the BCHL has spent years cultivating relationships with NCAA programs, the league is heavily scouted by the NCAA however U-18 players in other parts of Canada who wished to parley their skills into educational opportunities had only one choice – play in the US Hockey League – and many did. The BCHL argued making the Junior “A” level rules the same as the CHL would keep high performing kids in Canada and allow them the freedom to play at the highest level possible. Canadian kids were being forced to choose between moving out of the country to maintain scholorship eligibility or play in the CHL. Easy to see the CHL wields all the power in Hockey Canada.

Why are they worried?

BCHL has sent more kids to US Colleges on full ride scholarships that all other provinces combined.

The BCHL has as many players in the NHL as BC based CHL teams. (23 each).

BCHL and USHL had 60 players selected in the most recent NHL draft. – the CHL had 80.

Rather than improving the Junior “A” system in BC and Canada, which they see as direct competition to the CHL, they declare war and ensure that the ice is tilted towards the CHL.

Dear Hockey Canada… get back to the table.

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