Tag: David Branch

Dougie Hamilton

Report: NHL will still have access to CHL talent if season starts late


One issue that’s come up regarding a possible lockout is whether or not highly-talented CHL players who could be NHL-ready this season would be able to play pro hockey once their seasons began.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie heard from CHL president Dave Branch and finds out guys like Boston’s Dougie Hamilton and Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele may not be stuck in junior hockey all year long.

Branch tells McKenzie that NHL teams will have access to their CHL players once the NHL season gets underway following a possible lockout. For guys like Hamilton, Scheifele, and others who could jump to the NHL this season, this is a huge step for them so their ability to go pro right away isn’t hindered.

Even more importantly, perhaps, McKenzie says underage players who played in the NHL last season could play in the AHL this year. That means guys like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog, and Sean Couturier may be able to play with their respective farm teams.

McKenzie cites guys like Nathan Horton and Patrice Bergeron who did just that back in 2004-05. Imagine seeing last year’s Calder Trophy winner, runner-up, and a playoff hero in the minor leagues for a short time. Maybe the AHL wouldn’t mind seeing the NHL have a short lockout.

CHL commissioner predicts the end of fighting in junior hockey

Ty Bilcke

The Hotstove panel touched on this story last night on Hockey Night in Canada. Published in the National Post, it’s the story of Windsor Spitfires forward Ty Bilcke, a 17-year-old with the goal of fighting at least 30 times this season. Combined with the New York Times’ profile of Derek Boogaard’s tragic life, it has a lot of people talking about the need for fighting in junior hockey.

Isn’t Bilcke worried he’ll end up like Boogaard?

“Does it worry me? Yeah, it does in a sense,” Bilcke told the Post. “But it also doesn’t. I’m scared of getting hit too many times, obviously. Would I do it in the NHL and take a couple of blows? For sure. I’ve been telling my dad ever since I was three years old that I want to play in the NHL and I’d play in the NHL any way possible.”

Canadian Hockey League president David Branch suggests that junior players dropping the gloves is getting closer to becoming a thing of the past.

“There’s such a changing attitude,” said Branch. “If you had brought that up 20 years ago, [team owners and general managers] would have shook their heads. Now, there’s more and more people saying, ‘How can we get there?’ And it’s coming.”

Branch acknowledges that fighting sells tickets to certain fans, but he thinks it’s getting to the point where fighting will stop more fans from attending games than those it draws in.

“Do I think there’s a segment of fans out there that like fighting? Yes,” he said. “But I do feel that the numbers of fans that don’t see it as a need or a want are growing. I don’t think our game requires that as a need to sell the game.

“You look at the Memorial Cup; there’s no fights. You look at the world junior championships; you don’t have any fighting there. And I really believe attitudes have been changing and continue to change and there’s a steady, natural evolution away from it. The time will come where it will be deemed to be totally unacceptable and that will reduce it further.”

Junior hockey, of course, is comprised mostly of teenagers, making fighting harder for fans to condone. Moreover, based on my experiences watching the Vancouver Giants (WHL), I’d wager junior games (far more affordable compared to the NHL) have a higher share of young kids in the seats than high-priced NHL games. And while the kids love the fights, do their parents love that their kids are watching?

Photo: Windsor Star

Must-click link: Explaining the NCAA-CHL battle for players

Paul Kelly
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If you’re unaware of the ongoing feud between the NCAA, specifically College Hockey Inc., and the Canadian Hockey League, The Sporting News’ Craig Custance breaks everything down for you easily in his piece discussing the ugly battle between the organizations to bring in the best young hockey talent in North America.

While both sides of the battle dig in and engage in their own sort of turf war and mudslinging campaign to prove that their group is the best one for a young, hopeful NHL talent, the NHL stands on the sidelines watching it all unfold carefully while their own Collective Bargaining Agreement may be the thing helping make this feud all the more difficult.

With the salary cap being what it is and teams needing to continue developing their own talent, more and more young players are getting the call to fill out the organizational ranks. That means more kids sign on and turn pro which means college hockey takes a hit with each kid that jumps to the pros early as the NCAA is a strictly amateur organization. Once you start getting paid to play, you’re done in college. Such is not the case in the CHL and a big reason why more kids are winding up there rather than sticking to NCAA commitments among other reasons.

Just how ugly and awkward is it though? Custance details things from both sides hearing from College Hockey Inc.’s Paul Kelly and CHL commissioner David Branch among others. If you want to know more of what the deal in the amateur ranks, consider this your Cliffs Notes.