Should the new Canadian International Hockey League be approved for membership under the umbrella of the Amateur Athletic Union for the 2014-2015 season it figures to have a working relationship with the Midwest Jr. Hockey League.
MWJHL commissioner Scott Gardiner told HockeyNewsNorth.com on Monday that he met with CIHL founder Tim Clayden last week and the two discussed plans for a pair of showcase tournaments for next season.
“Tim and I are on the same page in the vision that we share for our respective leagues,” Gardiner told me. “If the CIHL is approved by the AAU the plan is for the MWJHL to build a strong relationship with the CIHL.”
The two-year old MWJHL is one of three junior hockey leagues sanctioned by the AAU. The Northern States Hockey League and the Western States Hockey League are the others.
Gardiner, who was a high-end forward in the Ontario Hockey League with Belleville Bulls and Windsor Spitfires from 1981 to 1984, added that he met at length with Clayden at the AAU’s national junior hockey tournament in Las Vegas last week and “we are definitely on the same page. I can see us becoming partners, pending AAU approval.”
Clayden, from his end, came away from Las Vegas impressed with the level of play of the six teams from the AAU-sanctioned leagues that competed for the national tournament title, which was won by the WSHL’s El Paso Rhinos.
“The teams and the players who were part of the national tournament were of very-good caliber,” Clayden said evenly. “Going in, I did not know what to expect but let me just say that I was pleasantly surprised. There are a number of players on those teams who have the ability to play junior hockey in Ontario leagues, in my humble opinion.”
As for Gardiner, Clayden said his meeting with the MWJHL commissioner was one of “shared vision and enthusiasm. Scott is a proven, experienced hockey person who has a passion for the game. In Scott, we are also talking about an American who as a kid played major junior hockey in Canada. He gets it.”
As for the CIHL itself as it looks ahead to the 2014-2015 season, “we have a lot of work ahead of us,” said Clayden. “We are serious about what we are trying to do. We don’t have any axe to grind with any other league. We are focused on building the CIHL in the best interest of every player on every team.”
Clayden added that the CIHL will hold a meeting in Toronto next week and “start to narrow down some of the possible new franchises and locations for the 2014-2015 season.”
Clayden acknowledged that Bracebridge will not be joining the CIHL from the Greater Metro Hockey League as was earlier reported by media from that town.
“We are not interested in territory battles with any other league. The owner of the Bracebridge Phantoms, Mr. Gord Carey, has outstanding issues that are up to him to try to resolve,” Clayden explained.