MWJHL, CIHL in open dialogue

February 10, 2015

The commissioner of the third-year, seven-team Midwest Jr. Hockey League is of the notion that having an interlocking schedule with the fledgling Canadian International Hockey League in 2015-2016 will benefit the overall level of play.

Scott Gardiner, who is co-coach and co-owner of the defending MWJHL champion Traverse City Hounds as well as being the league’s commissioner, said he and CIHL president Tim Clayden talk regularly.

“Tim and I have maintained an open dialogue all year long,” said the 50-year old Gardiner, a former first-round pick of the Belleville Bulls who played with the Ontario Hockey League team from 1981 to 1984.

“I believe playing against our Canadian neighbours will help our overall level of play and create tremendous rivalries,” Gardiner noted. “There is no reason at all why we cannot play against one another in showcase events and overlapping schedules as long as all teams are properly insured.

“At the end of our season we will be looking at all of our options. The junior hockey landscape is constantly changing and we will move forward as we always have,” Gardiner added evenly.

Dan Vasquez, who is the coach-general manager of the Detroit Fighting Irish of the MWJHL, is also on record as being in favour of an alignment with the CIHL, providing all teams are properly insured.

Vasquez and the Fighting Irish recently hosted a five-team showcase tournament that included the Motor City Monarchs of the MWJHL, the Batchewana Attack and Espanola Rivermen of the CIHL and the independent Kalkaska Rhinos. Batchewana won the tournament championship by defeating Kalkaska and Espanola took the measure of Detroit to claim the consolation prize.

The Fighting Irish will venture north to play exhibition games with Espanola and Batchewana this Friday night and Sunday afternoon, respectively. Part of a balanced MWJHL, the Fighting Irish is in a spirited battle with Motor City for second place behind league-leading Traverse City.

Meanwhile, aside from Batchewana and Espanola, the CIHL has had a rough debut season, which Clayden as president has readily acknowledged.

But Clayden said he is confident that the CIHL will operate with five healthy franchises — based in northern Ontario and northern Michigan — in 2015-2016 and that the MWJHL will enhance the operation.

“Scotty (Gardiner) and I talk all the time and I have had a chance to meet and get to know Dan (Vasquez) and some of the other good people who are involved with the MWJHL,” Clayden noted. “I am thankful for their input and support to date.”

What you think about “MWJHL, CIHL in open dialogue”

  1. Why not just merge the two or three ( whatever the number is these days) remaining CIHL teams into the MWJHL?

  2. I am looking forward to watch Detroit when they play here on Friday. They seam to be a Class Organisation from what I hear about them.

  3. Well I for 1 will be renewing my Season Tix for the Rivermen for next season. Am I intirely happy with the way that this Season has gone ??? No I am not how ever I am willing to chawk it up to a 1st yr league that had issues. As a franchise The Rivermen are a class act for a franchise and they definatley have my support !

  4. I think this would be a special treat for next season. The CIHL attending the Shamrock Showdown, the Fighting Irish coming to then CIHL Kalkaska`s Showdown and now coming up north to play us, the groundwork is already happening now. I also expect to renew my season tickets. It`s great to hear my kids and kids around town talking about how excited they are to see the players at the many, many functions, school visits, and things this organization is at around town. I will be very happy to watch a 5 team league with special visits possibly from MWJHL clubs. Those who nay-say I don`t think understand Mr Clayden`s determination and the anchor club and support he has in Espanola here. I hope Batchewana is equally strong and committed. A scale back before re-growing the league.

  5. My “sources” are saying to me that there will be a CIHL team that will play there home games in Sudbury next year with a new Owner that is a fairly well to do succesful businessman in the Area.

  6. Potential sold out crowd in Espanola this Friday as the whole towns buzzing about seeing the DETROIT FIGHTING IRISH

  7. It’s going to be exciting to see USA tourism dollars come to Espanola and Detroit, the Monarchs, Traverse City, Alpena and the SOO go Rivermen go #CIHL

  8. I do not see why you would not merge the two leagues. A 10 or 12 league is much more appealing then 5 or 6. You just have the team’s located close to one another play each other more often then the other teams in the league. In my honest opinion this is the only way for the CIHL to survive and would be beneficial to the MWJHL

  9. Can’t see a merger as the CIHL left the AAU, MWJHL’s sanctioning body, apparently because of overcharging for the AAU’s player insurance.

    1. If the MWJHL can afford this insurance the CIHL should surely be able to as well. League insurance is essential as well as good medical coverage for any import players from Europe or US Players playing on the Canadian Side.

  10. There`s more to it than that Northbay, CIHL is I’m sure properly insured. The AAU wanted an extra insurance for all import players, despite them already having insurance coverage. I believe it was outlined in the article about the CIHL leaving the AAU, but I didn`t go back to check.

  11. All AAU registered teams had to pay the same fee’s for import players. The CIHL was not singled out. I’m sure at this point, they had wished they just paid the fee. We all would have been better off for it, most of all the players.

  12. Deuceswild, CIHL does not recognize American players as imports. They left because they were hit with an extra insurance for non-import players. It went against the philosophy that the CIHL announced right from the beginning of hockey without borders. No import fees for American players. Then AAU produced an extra insurance fee doing just that. True CIHL wasn’t singled out, but they were the only Canadian league, this the only one forced to pay extra.

  13. No one was forced, all import players in AAU & MWJHL paid the additional import fee’s. It was no surprise to anyone in the CIHL BOG. What a league does to label players means nothing. Insurance companies will do the for you. It’s also not an import fee. Look at the Soo Firehawks roster and count the their import players. They seem to have as many as 8 players they paid this for. If we’re looking for excuses, it’s easy to find them!

  14. There’s no excuses. Tom made his move and has good support here in Espanola. I give the man full credit. Instead of complaining about something he did something about it.

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