The BC Hockey League has announced its intention to withdraw from the Canadian Junior Hockey League.
The CJHL – the governing body that oversees junior ‘A’ hockey leagues across the country, from B.C. to the Maritimes – indicated in a short statement Friday morning that the B.C. league plans to leave.
“The Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) announced today that the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) has submitted a notice to withdraw their membership from the CJHL, effective March 24th,” the statement reads.
“The remaining nine Leagues within the CJHL will continue with their commitment to player development, through their partnership with Hockey Canada, and its members, as well as the National Hockey League, which includes the presentation of the Centennial Cup national championship, the World Junior A Challenge, and the CJHL Prospects game.”
The move to leave the CJHL had been rumoured for a few weeks, after Regina-based online sports-radio host Rod Pedersen reported that it was in the works. On March 25, a BCHL spokesperson told Black Press Media that “we’ve seen these reports and we can’t make any comment on it at the moment.”
Black Press Media has requested further comment from the BCHL in light of the CJHL’s statement, but has not yet received a response.
The BCHL’s plans moving forward are as yet unclear, though the idea that the B.C. league – long considered the best junior ‘A’ league in Canada – could run as an independent operation has been floated before. Pedersen reported in March that a handful of teams from the Alberta Junior Hockey League could join the BCHL in some sort of ‘super league’ while the idea that the BCHL could operate in some type of partnership with the United States Hockey League has also been suggested as a possibility.
The CJHL, along with Hockey Canada, operates the Centennial Cup national junior ‘A’ championship tournament, as well as the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge and a CJHL Top Prospects game. Presumably, BCHL players would be ineligible to compete in those events once the BCHL leaves the CJHL.
The BCHL is currently playing a 20-game mini season, with teams based in various hub cities throughout the province.