Wednesday, May 25, 2005


CHL Rule Changes: Legislated Xenophobia?

Under the radar of the great Memorial Cup action was the passing of some new rules that will affect CHL rosters in the future.

While the focus of the rule changes has been on the 15 and 16 year-olds (especially in light of the John Tavares case), the rule change that really irks me is this one - "In addition, as of the 2007-08 season, each major junior team will be allowed to carry just one non-North American player."

Wha???! Why?

While the NHL has expanded to 30 teams, the thinning of talent has really been nullified by the supply of European players available to fill in the extra roster spots.

With the CHL having exploded to 56 teams, there hasn't been the same available pool of talent from elsewhere to fill in the extra roster spots. The talent pool has really thinned in the CHL and the CHL keeps wanting to expand even further.

With a current limit of 2 imports per team, the numerous extra roster spots created will filled with Canadian (and occassionally American) players of lower quality that would have never made the CHL in the past.

"But Jes, European players take away positions from CANADIAN players? How is that fair?"

Baloney! If a European player takes any position away from a Canadian player, that player is either

1. The 22nd player on the roster that really didn't deserve to be there in the first place or
2. A young 16 or 17 year-old who would best be served playing in a lower league and getting 1st line ice time as supposed to warming the bench in the CHL.

The 'cost' of not having one or two Canadian players on a roster is more than offset by having players of high skill playing and competing in the CHL. The linemates, teammates, and opposition of these import players is better off, in the long run, by having higher skilled players in the CHL talent pool.

Not every team even uses 1 or 2 European players on their roster, so I can't understand the current and sudden need to change this rule. It smells like typical Canadian Xenophobia infected some people in the Canadian hockey ranks.

Who will love this rule change?
1. Don Cherry
2. European teams. Czech and Slovak teams, especially, have lost many juniors to the CHL as the kids want to increase their NHL chances. Marek Schwarz and Andrej Meszaros, the two Giants imports, were expected to be key cogs for their European pro teams.
3. Xenophobic Canadian hockey fans. There are quite a few redneck hockey fans who don't take kindly to those 'sissy Euros', or refuse to warmup to the nervous imports who have flown half way across the world and left their families behind.

It's a shame that the CHL has to get 'regressive' when the league has done so well the past decade and has even more growth potential. Whomever came up with the concept of reducing the European quotient in the CHL needs a Frantisek Musil slash to the wrists followed by an Ulf Samuelsson hit-from-behind and finished with a Ruslan Salej slew-foot.

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