EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a message from Tim Clayden of the Canadian International Hockey League.
CIHL Hockey has been in operation for a month now and has experienced its fair share of trials and tribulations. We have had many gains and successes and are fully prepared to deal with the stumbles ahead which could be considered common in the beginnings of a new junior hockey league. We will persevere even when others continually criticize and try to tear apart what we know is a hockey program that will be second to none at this level in providing options and dreams to world-wide student-athletes.
The biggest difference with CIHL Hockey is that our group fully intends to finish what we have started. Yes, as CIHL President I have fumbled the ball in many areas in our start up, with so many miscalculations. However, our team governors, management, coaches and community volunteers remain committed to finishing what we have started on behalf of each student-athlete junior hockey player that has given their commitment to our teams and league.
Many of us involved have kids today and we have every intention to look our kids in the eyes and deliver on our promises, that is what good parents and good hockey people do. That alone is the difference maker.
I as CIHL President and CEO, along with our CIHL executive branch, franchise governors, board of directors and staff would like to share with our players, parents, fan base, supporters and naysayers included, some of the issues both positive and negative that the CIHL has faced in its opening month of action.
As we continue to move forward and positive, we remain very excited about the future of CIHL Hockey, where good far out weighs the bad in our first month.
Only eight months and 13 days since the inception of our visionary beginnings — and I say three of our eight CIHL league teams could play in any Tier II Junior Hockey League throughout North America today and do very, very well.
Congratulations to all CIHL programs for getting out of the gate so strongly.
I extend my apologies in regards to our league stats and online game streaming. The man hours, time and effort that goes into website production, including programming, data entry, server space and the always increasing web traffic every day was underestimated. It has been a huge and challenging undertaking that has been our focus and continues to be our focus as we are diligently working at getting it right. Frankly, we have also underestimated the off the charts interest in our CIHL vision as well.
However, I stand behind our team of programmers, designers and volunteers who continue to work tirelessly every day and night inputting stats and programming our web formulas. All these tedious exercises will put CIHL Hockey on par with and above others in junior hockey in the very near future. This is not at the fault of our IT personnel in place. I take responsibility for underestimating the task at hand. It was an oversight for not including more good people than we already have involved today in order to address the time lines required to complete our web works properly. I sincerely apologize to all for your inconveniences.
Furthermore, we have also underestimated our web server space as CIHL Hockey traffic to date has been inundated with almost a half million monthly page views, currently each month between our eight home team sites including CIHL Hockey and the always-very-informative HockeyNewsNorth.com website. It has been overwhelming but a pleasant surprise and a wonderful problem to encounter in just our first month of operation.
We make a promise to our fans that a strong and continued immediate focus is ongoing at this time to wrapping up our stats and online game streaming this month. Our focus to our student-athletes remains at the forefront with our continued player promotion to ACHA and NCAA college programs.
Although our stats have been almost non-existent to date and something we painfully acknowledge, the interest in our teams and student-athlete players continues to grow each week. So much so that we expect to have many of our players placed following our CIHL Winter College Classic Student-Athlete Showcase Tournament, slated for Collingwood, Ont., from Jan. 9 to 11, 2015. The showcase is expected to have as many as 12 teams in attendance from both the CIHL and other USA junior leagues, with two additional CIHL College Showcase Tournaments coming up in Michigan and in Toronto at the Master Card Centre later this spring.
CIHL Hockey continues to be dedicated to delivering our promise to our players and their parents in the development and promotion of our worldwide student-athletes first, taking our kids to the colleges. We strongly believe playing in College Showcase Tournaments as a part of our regular season and into late spring of each year is paramount and a very important aspect of our CIHL student-athlete junior hockey player promotion to the colleges.
It’s unbelievable when you see all the problems that we have encountered in our startup that we are generating more and more interest each day. It’s a testament to the work we are doing when you look at the recent call-up of Batchewana Attack goalie Jack Hickey in our first month of operation. The Batchewana Attack goalie was called upon by Green Bay Gamblers playing in the number one junior hockey league in all of North America, the United States Hockey League. This move indicates that even after only one month of operation and without daily stats or on-line game streaming, the CIHL and our players are already on the junior hockey map outside the boundaries of our member franchise communities and more importantly throughout the NCAA, ACHA, USHL and NAHL hockey and college programs across North America.
However, with every success, there are some issues that need to be addressed.
The CIHL is always focused on making operations cohesive to work in the best interest of our players, for the league and team ownerships as a whole which includes the recent restructuring of the St. Charles and Sudbury franchises which has been an important task to help ensure the longevity of both franchises.
We have a tentative agreement in place for the management of both clubs and the restructuring of St. Charles Spirit in the best interest of the franchise to successfully fulfill their long-term facility agreement with the Municipality of St. Charles for many years. A prominent local businessman along with Mayor and Council have helped ensure both the community and the CIHL remain committed to long-term successes in the St Charles community.
As President of the CIHL, we are both proud and happy to have a solid junior hockey team operating in St, Charles, Ontario.
The management team put in place by the Ginson and Bourque families will prove to be successful at the gate as well as with their on-ice results. The CIHL is really happy for the entire Spirit management team, their players, their families, the community of St.Charles and surrounding area junior hockey fans. All can be confident this management team will work tirelessly every day at being the best they can be, both on and off the ice.
As for the Sudbury Royals, the team has had a little bumpy start on the ice, but with the new addition and tireless recruiting efforts of Mr. Richard Miness, a big man who has been around the game along time with even a bigger heart who has now agreed to join the Royals’ majority owner KB Beals in a joint effort to start building the team into becoming a contender in the very near future.
Combined with KB’s strong abilities off the ice and in the community, we have no doubt they will help give head coach Trevor Blanchard some added talent heading into the second month of league action. It is expected that the new management team will turn the Royals hard-working hockey club around.
The restructuring of both St. Charles and Sudbury is fantastic news for the CIHL and the two communities. Each junior hockey club has avid hockey fans and some very good people involved. Our hats sincerely go off to Mr. Miness for taking the high road.
I would like to take this opportunity to also recognize our league officials and the fine job they are doing for the CIHL. They fill a very important role, which is another key component to the future successes of our program moving forward. Our officials management team has done a masterful job putting a quality group of officials together in just month one of year one. All these men deserve a tap on the back, some that are driving more than 150 kilomeres just to do a game and return home the very same day. Our entire league is appreciative to all our officials involved today. Thank you, gentlemen.
In the end, wins and losses in October are meaningless. I don’t recall Lord Stanley being paraded ever before the snow flies. We have lots of hockey yet, and all our franchises are working hard each and every day to get better.
The league will look at possibly realigning along with the reseeding of teams heading into the New Year along with the CIHL regular season being extended into mid-March and playoffs going into late April. This will accommodate for additional college showcase tournaments, all designed to help give our student-athlete players better college exposure.
In closing, I would like to look at our trials and tribulations early in the season as a learning experience which will strengthen our league. Without a doubt the CIHL will deliver in just our first season on taking our student-athletes to the next level. We will continue to be relentless as we work on behalf of each of our student-athletes, putting player development and promotion to the colleges first.
I can also share to date that we have as many as eight NCAA/ACHA college placements on the table now for CIHL student-athlete players, and we are just getting started. The CIHL is in for a great finish this spring that will open and convince the eyes of many.
The bottom line here is our entire CIHL organization is made up of like-minded business and junior hockey people who have the same shared passion for the greatest game in the world. We are simply providing a little different opportunity for student-athlete junior hockey players where we are in competition with no other league but in competition every day with ourselves to be the best that we can be at providing a junior hockey opportunity that continues to put our student-athlete player’s development and promotion first.
We will finish what we have started and we will do what we say we will do.
On behalf of the CIHL executive branch, franchise governors, board of directors, staff, team members, our so many dedicated volunteers in all our rinks and myself, I would like to assure you that your faith in our vision of a junior hockey formula that works for student-athletes first will not be taken lightly. This past first month is just a short step in what we believe will be a long and positive journey.
Thank you to everyone who has supported our league and our players thus far, especially a big thank you goes out to the parents of our players that have put their faith in our league and our programs to put their son’s development and promotion to the colleges first. We have had some bumps but have zero intention of letting your lads and or your families down.
Play hard, always be good junior hockey community ambassadors and most importantly, have fun playing the greatest game in the world!
Tim W. Clayden
CIHL President/Chief Executive Officer