The B.C. Hockey League announced its intention to withdraw its membership from the Canadian Junior Hockey League last week, but the league is staying tight-lipped about “why’ and “what now.”
“After reviewing our options, the BCHL has chosen to no longer belong to the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL),” the league said in a Twitter post April 9. “The BCHL is not withdrawing from Hockey Canada or BC Hockey.”
Since Chris Hebb took over as commissioner of the junior A league in 2018, the BCHL has been very careful about messaging. When Black Press Media reached out for comment and to arrange an interview with Hebb Monday morning, the league’s Coordinator of Content Services, Jesse Adamson, had nothing more to offer.
“At this time, we don’t have anything to say on the matter beyond that statement,” he said.
Team officials at the local level aren’t allowed to comment either, leaving media and fans to speculate. There’s long been whispers of a “super league” scenario — perhaps a partnership with the Alberta Junior Hockey League or the U.S. Hockey League. The two westernmost Canadian leagues are regarded as the strongest in Canada and the USHL has made significant inroads south of the border.
On March 25, in the midst of speculation about the BCHL’s status, the AJHL released a statement on Twitter from commissioner Ryan Bartoshyk, saying the AJHL has no intention of leaving the CJHL.
“The AJHL remains a member of the Canadian Junior Hockey League and there is no plan for the creation of a new joint League,” it said. “No active members of the Alberta Junior Hockey League have expressed a desire to leave the AJHL and join an alternative League outside of the Province.”
In a statement released last week, the CJHL noted that BCHL players would no longer be eligible to participate in the CJHL Top Prospects Game or the World Junior A Challenge. The former is a certainty, and a loss to draft-eligible BCHL players hoping to impress National Hockey League scouts in the annual showcase game.
But the latter may not necessarily be out if the BCHL is maintaining affiliation with Hockey Canada, as the WJAC is a Hockey Canada event.
Lots of questions and no answers from the BCHL head office. Adamson suggested the league should have more to say after its annual general meeting in mid-May.
With files from Kevin Rothbauer