Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Canada's major junior leagues want to stop drafting Europeans

Or cut back the maximum allowable European drafted players in a season......from two to one. From the Toronto Star:

Citing a difficulty in signing them (European players) and a decline in the quality of their play, a movement is gaining traction to eliminate European hockey players from Canada's major junior hockey teams.
This concept is in discussion-mode amongst the OHL (already) and soon to follow with the QMJHL, WHL, etc.
This isn't a bad thing. It's officially overdue. European hockey is gaining strength (more-so in certain areas), and I don't think they would mind if they could keep their top young players to continue that trend. The headaches of some Euro players not necessarily wanting to come here, plus a growing compensation argument from Euro teams can easily go away if this notion is passed. Current compensation value for drafting a European? $2400. Seriously. European teams are demanding more and rightfully so.
I believe there were around 120 Europeans drafted in Canada's major juniors last season. Eliminate that and 120 more Canadian kids get a chance to move up. I'm in full support of that. (I would imagine Don Cherry is jumping up and down right now over this possibility as well).
I'm not being racist. I just support my country first. Yet I also support hockey globalization and want it to thrive everywhere.
More from The Star's Kevin McGran:
...the European hockey federations wouldn't mind it at all if the CHL cut back on the number of imports.

They've been arguing for years that European players who come to the CHL are no further ahead in their goal of making the NHL than those who remain behind with their club teams.

The Euros have further said that the CHL draft and the NHL's propensity for taking 18- and 19-year-olds weakens the quality of hockey in European leagues, to the detriment of the sport.
Let me say something about the second sentence in that quote. Not all Europeans think that way. Take Pär Marttila, coach for the Swedish J20-national team for example, who said to Swedish paper Sportbladet recently: "It is a tougher environment over there (in the CHL). You play before large audiences and the demands are greater. There are players who derive benefit from it, for example, we see Robin Figren (next season in Djurgården), which has made very well and come home as a better player, "says Marttila.
So that would be the flipped side of the coin on this whole issue. European players that play hockey in Canada, or even the US, generally become better overall players. I think they become more NHL-ready as well, especially with the physicality part of the game. But even that part of the game is growing in Europe isn't it? Where did Ovechkin learn how to crash and bang like that? Remember when the Russians couldn't handle physicality in hockey? The Russians aren't "going home" for that reason anymore. It's the money. Hello KHL.
I'm drifting off topic a bit.
The fact that 18-19 year old Euro players become better players here shouldn't be a factor in a decision to eliminate or reduce the amount of Europeans that a CHL team can draft at the annual European Draft. The reasoning for the elimination of the Draft is clear.
"I think it (the European Draft) was a great idea, but right now we're in a different situation," said Brian Kilrea, coach and GM of the Ottawa 67's and one of the forces behind the elimination of the European draft. "In the old days, players wanted to come over to play. Now, once their European clubs realize that these players we've drafted are on their team, they want to keep them, or sell them to the highest bidder."
Kilrea also mentioned to the Star that he is having difficulty getting Yakov Vorobyov released out of Kazakhstan. This problem is becoming all too common.

The IIHF also approves of the idea.
"We strongly advocate cutting out Europeans from major junior in Canada altogether or at least reduce the Euro quota to one," said Szymon Szemberg, spokesperson for the International Ice Hockey Federation. "We understand that the CHL has totally different reasons than us for initiating this discussion.
"But, from our standpoint, as long as the number is being reduced or eliminated, we are convinced that this is best, both for European as well as for Canadian development, regardless of what prompted the rule change."
Shit simple reasoning here. The Europeans want to keep their young stars and the CHL is tired of being stood up by imports.
But that's not even all of it. The GM's in the CHL are also citing an "uneven playing field" amongst eachother in regards to who gets their Euro drafted player to come to North America and who doesn't. There is an imbalance there. Some teams either have better connections or use bigger guns to entice their pick to head over the ocean.
Bottom line: One big headache. Time to throw down the Advil and put a stop to this mess.

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4 Comments:

At August 20, 2008 at 1:48 PM , Blogger KevinV said...

I think there is a great opportunity here for the NHL to expand to Europe. Let's sit down with the principals and figure out a trans-Atlantic NHL with a North American and a European Conference with the Stanley Cup being awarded to the new finals winner.

NA Conference

Eastern Division (NE, Atlantic and SE Division

Western Division (NW, Central and Pacific Division)

European Conference

Eastern Division (Russia, Finland, Sweden)

Western Division (Germany, Czech, Slovak, France, Switzerland, other points east and south of Germany)

Hell, that'd be great!

 
At August 20, 2008 at 2:01 PM , Blogger Sean Zandberg said...

As I was writing the piece, I was thinking along the same lines, Kevin. That would be the ultimate globalization factor indeed.
The travelling factor would be sick though.
They could just take the best team from the NHL that wins the Cup and have them play against the top team out of Europe.........
IT would require a shitload of planning and structuring.

 
At August 20, 2008 at 3:48 PM , Blogger KevinV said...

Oh, no doubt about it, Sean. They couldn't play each other during the regular season. The distances are just too much.

What they could do is like the old time MLB World Series when the ONLY time the two leagues play each other is the final playoff series, i.e. North American winner versus European winner (in a 4 game, 3 game format, with a few travel days off for the trans-continental travel).

Of course, if my country keeps picking fights with Russia....

 
At August 20, 2008 at 5:02 PM , Blogger Sean Zandberg said...

Ha!
Yeah, your idea sounds good to me.
Don't mess with Russians. I married one. They scary!

 

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