EDITOR’S NOTE: The following release was sent to HockeyNewsNorth.com from Tim Clayden, founder and president of the fledgling Canadian International Hockey League.
We have taken the past eight weeks to discuss the positives and the many pitfalls that the Canadian International Hockey League encountered this past season, both with our dedicated executive as well as many other junior hockey industry colleagues in both sanctioned and unsanctioned hockey here in Canada and the United States.
Many have expressed that our CIHL Hockey vision was conceptually very good and in many areas right on point. However, what could go wrong, went wrong.
But in saying such, so many good hockey people gave their time and only good intentions for the kids and their parents that committed to sharing our vision. They know who they are and each deserve full credit for staying the course although we did experience so many setbacks throughout the season.
We refuse to look at the junior hockey glass as anything but half full with some pretty terrific people involved on and off the ice, including some special kids and their parents, and the many dedicated officials who often take the brunt of all the frustrations, the coaches, management and executive members in both sanctioned and unsanctioned junior hockey who put tireless hours into the greatest game in the world. The good far out weighs the bad.
Our entire Executive and supporting CIHL Hockey members had only good intentions with many very good ideas to develop and promote student athletes along with a very strong vision for the future, unfortunately, we did not surround ourselves with the same dedicated and committed ownership groups and it cost us an entire season.
In hindsight, I have to take the responsibility for rushing our programs into play in our first season, and for not securing the same dedicated ownership groups in each of our interested communities. The lay of the junior land is changing, where it is fair to say junior hockey here in Ontario and Michigan has now reached its pinnacle where the player pool has also become much smaller. The key to every team in every league in the future is going to be first and foremost, strong, committed and dedicated ownership as there will surely be a junior hockey market correction in the very near future.
CIHL Hockey has more than enough communities that would like to have a team based on our vision to develop and promote student-athlete hockey — the issue is finding dedicated ownership groups in each of those communities to represent the individual organizations in the best interest of both the players and their communities.
Unfortunately, the CIHL with the recent expansion of the United States Premier Hockey League into Michigan leaves the CIHL with very little room for our planned growth into the USA. The USPHL will be a very sexy attraction for both Canadian and USA junior players next season — and why not?
In terms of our CIHL Hockey Academy vision that allows for more younger and local players to play junior hockey at home alongside other world wide student-athletes, we believe our future lies within the development of academy hockey, in developing and promoting a younger player for the next higher level of play.
A perfect example that we would like to bring to Ontario and the Eastern seaboard in the very near future is the Okanagan Hockey Academy — a worldly British Columbia based hockey academy that is setting the bar for Academy styled hockey here in Canada.
With the culture of junior hockey being in such disarray in so many communities and with the many off-ice unsupervised organizations, we believe parents will embrace the idea of their kids playing hockey and finishing their high school education in a more structured environment before moving on to the next level of play. Although these kids are young men, they all need structure and supervision, both on and off the ice, with the culture of junior hockey in need of much rethinking.
With Tier 2 hockey now primarily being a pay to pay system throughout North America, with parents paying thousands of dollars each season for their kids to play junior hockey, we believe there is a huge responsibility on the teams and their staff now more than ever to better manage and oversee their teams and players activities off the ice. The added responsibility comes with accepting fees to play.
Our group will take the 2015-2016 season off to plan accordingly and to make the adjustment to structure an academy styled hockey concept that is attractive to a younger, student-athlete player looking to have a competitive structured program that helps each player develop both on and off the ice in order to advance to the next level of play, including both men’s and women’s academy hockey where we plan to return to play for the 2016-2017 season.
Once again, thank you to everyone who has supported our vision and our league. We promise every effort to make sure the CIHL vision returns and fulfills the dreams of every young student-athlete who dreams of playing meaningful hockey at the highest level.
Tim W. Clayden