Russian Nikita Serebryakov could be one of the last goalies from overseas to play in the CHL (Terry Wilson, OHL Images)
The Canadian Hockey League's decision, announced last week, that it would cease including goaltenders in its annual import draft beginning in 2014 raised many questions. One of which is whether it is technically legal to do so while forwards and defencemen from abroad are still fine and dandy. Fortunately, Fraser Mackinnon Blair (@fmblair) has taken a look into the matter.
Please note: the contents of this article are not to be construed as legal advice. The author of this article is a recent graduate of law school, but is not a lawyer.
Beginning in 2014, the Canadian Hockey League in conjunction with Hockey Canada will forbid its clubs from selecting European goaltenders in its annual two-round import draft. Clubs will still be permitted to draft European goaltenders in this year’s draft, but may only do so in the draft’s first round.
The ban is being justified as an attempt to increase the calibre of Canadian goaltending by increasing the number of Canadian goalies minding the 60 CHL creases. However, according to Buzzing the Net's Cam Charron, only 11 of the 68 CHL goalies who qualified for the games played threshold were from Europe, so it’s hard to view this as a pandemic. The CHL has not altered its policy regarding the eligibility of American-born goaltenders.
While we can debate whether the CHL’s decision will have any effect on the calibre of future Canadian goaltenders elsewhere, it is apparent that the decision raises issues relating to anti-competitive behaviour.
Competition law in Canada is structured under the Competition Act, the purpose of which is to "maintain and encourage competition in Canada." In general commercial matters, it tries to accomplish this purpose by, amongst other things, prohibiting restrictive trade practices, exclusive dealing, price maintenance, bid rigging and other cartel-like behaviour.
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