Future of OJHLApril 19 2012 at 8:56 AM
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Jr. A program could be great equalizer
View more by John Cudmore Cuddy Shark, Newmarket Banner
April 17, 2012
Sooner or later, it will be tomorrow. It just sort of happens like that, day after day.
The Ontario Hockey Association awaits the time when a new day illuminates its junior package, top to bottom.
To get specific, a plan for junior hockey in Ontario, known within inner circles as Tomorrows Game, is an ambitious outline to restructure and improve the product that has simmered on the back burner for a some time. It will be some time before the pot boils over, but it is bubbling ever so slowly.
Followers of the Ontario Junior Hockey League have recognized their league lags behind most other junior A jurisdictions in Canada in terms of competitiveness and professionalism of operation.
Really, aside from the 2004 and 2007 national title-winning Aurora Tigers, central Canada has offered very little on the national landscape in recent years generally.
Considering the vast population and resources in Ontario for junior hockey, that is not anywhere near reasonable production.
Presented in concept about four years ago, Tomorrows Game is, at long last, accepted as a course, possibly salvation, for junior hockey in Ontario.
You may recall the model includes a premier level with at least two developmental levels underneath.
The OJHL has made startling progress toward a premier level. Maybe thats due to the disarray of the league at the starting point, but trimming down to 23 teams from 36 since Tomorrows Game was initially discussed, and widely panned, is impressive. From that standpoint, the OJHL seems to have grasped the necessity of laying the groundwork.
There have been a few clunks along the way.
The collection of teams leaving the OJHL causes some to raise an eyebrow, but its not a popularity contest. It is not always about the winning team surviving. Just look at some of the teams that have left and some that have remained. On the surface, it doesnt always make sense.
Its more a survival exercise, with a combination of the fittest franchises, those with the desire and the ones with a business plan and, in some cases, those that simply dont have the good sense to leave.
The OJHL isnt in much of a position to quibble about the hows and whys. No one said the process would be pain-free.
Ultimately, there must be more franchises erased to make room for Junior B outfits that would become part of the premier level along with top-end OJHL teams.
The Ontario Junior Hockey League is doing a great job of managing contraction on its own, OHA president Brent Ladds said, pointing to a stronger and more balanced on-ice product. Its still an ongoing project, but I think everyone is resigned to the fact it will happen. I think everyone acknowledges we had too many teams in the past.
Lets face it: No one makes money owning and operating a hockey team at the OJHL level, so how can mandatory ownership dictated by the league be possible? In fact, a lot more franchises are going to vanish if they dont get their acts together and come up to snuff on the recommended standard operating policies the league hopes to have in place by the end of the 2012-13 season.
For starters, the cold, hard truth is more teams are going to disappear as dad-son ownership teams graduate the ranks. In recent seasons, the OHA has rejected the sale of franchises to new parties and scrutinizing closely the hand-me-down concept is an excellent tool to possess.
The de-commissioning program, as a whole, was a three-year plan, OJHL commissioner Marty Savoy said Tuesday from Thunder Bay, where the Stouffville Spirit were preparing for the Dudley Hewitt Cup opening night game. That doesnt mean its over. Now its a team-by-team process.
Were in uncharted waters. No one has gone through what weve gone through with so many teams. Finally, our franchise values are starting to escalate.
He said the league has the option to match any purchase offer for a franchise.
I dont think well ever go over 24 teams again.
The climate for change is an about-face from the early days when Tomorrows Game frightened the pants off most of the junior hockey community.
Following the initial pushback, progress has been quiet and steady. Sure, there have been glitches along the way and there will be more.
I think some were threatened by it, but when you sit around and talk about it, you start to share a vision, Ladds said.
The key soon will be bringing together the other junior levels to facilitate a top-to-bottom overhaul within the OHA.
Convincing everyone to get on the same page in that area should be the next great challenge. That means auditing the existing franchises for their strengths and weaknesses and extracting attributes that will help serve the league in its standard operating procedures brochure.
You cant bring in teams until you have that outline, Savoy said. We want to put in place the OJHL system. That is, to take the best of what all the teams are doing.
Feelings and pride will be hurt, but that is to be expected.
Re: Future of OJHLNo score for this post
|April 19 2012, 12:53 PM |
The future is really easy. Focus on student/ athletes only. If you want to go to the OHL let them go. If a player doesnt sign for a 3 year committment then don't sgn him and if you played in the OHL you can't sign them.
Re: Future of OJHLNo score for this post
|April 19 2012, 3:16 PM |
Agreed , and you must get rid of the poor ownership as they do nothing for league.
These are teams who simply cannot field Junior A caliber teams.
It may be money, poor management or unable to draw .
Just cut the cord and move on!
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