CHL phasing in European goalie ban, overreacting to the crisis it invented

This is how you get Canadian goalies ready to be world-beaters, by fearing competition? That question mark was just typed as a reflex, honestly, eh.

Every so often, the Canadian Hockey League will offer a reminder that its teenage players have no monopoly on being juvenile. In what can only be called self-serving, scapegoating, shortsighted, protectionism-writ-large, wagon-circling overreaction to Team Canada's four-year gold-medal drought at the world junior championship, the CHL is phasing in a ban on European goalies in order to solve a problem that does not actually exist.

[Previously: CHL import goaltender crisis
overblown, by the numbers

Not to digress, but this move by CHL president and OHL commissioner David Branch is awkwardly reminiscient of Major League Baseball commish Bud Selig's BioGenesis stance. You invent a crisis when you've held a position of power for eons.

This is why satire is dead. Canada hasn't had it as good as it used to at the U20 level, so there must be some foreign element one can blame it on.

Barring a better way to help young goalies develop that starts long before they reach junior leagues at age 17 or 18, it comes off like a diversion tactic. Pay no attention to the fact that this idea was advanced by former Hockey Canada goalie consultant Ron Tugnutt, who of course is going to say anything that will steer people away from questioning his talent evaluations. Furthermore, it's easier to blame goaltending then question the performance of the entire team.

Also, going along with this means ignoring that talent at various positions goes in cycles. One scouting service I patronize projects that five of the first six goalies picked in the upcoming NHL draft will be from the CHL, starting with the Halfiax Mooseheads' Zachary Fucale in the first round. (Two columns on this issue later, Sportsnet junior hockey guru Damien Cox still hasn't mentioned Fucale, although he believes Andrei Medvedev was the Saskatoon Blades' goalie at the Memorial Cup. Medvedev actually celebrated his 30th birthday in April.

Ultimately, it is hard to see how this will develop better Canadian goaltenders. It's not even a guarantee that more young Canadian goalies will get a long look from NHL teams. Scouts will go where the legitimate prospects are; legislation will not change it. Meantime, European goalies lose since there are fewer developmental opportunities in their home countries.

It's a shameful decision by the CHL, which one has to believe is thinking in lockstep with Hockey Canada. The hypocrisy is off the hook. The CHL, as Cam Charron noted last week, could ban 20-year-old overage goaltenders so that younger 'tenders could play more, but it won't. It also will not even think about restricting the use of American goalies, who magically seem to end up playing for marquee teams such as the Kitchener Rangers (Anaheim Ducks prospect John Gibson, who was top goalie at the world junior), London Knights (Philadelphia Flyers second-rounder Anthony Stolarz) and Windsor Spitfires (Dallas Stars first-rounder Jack Campbell in 2010-11 and part of '11-12).

Only two import goalies have led a team to the Memorial Cup. Only two, Detroit Red Wings prospect and Ottawa 67's grad Petr Mrazek being the most recent, have ever been named top goalie at the world junior. Some crisis we have here. By the way, in accordance with this brave new world will , if Mrazek wins the Calder Cup with the Grand Rapids Griffins, will his 67's be fined if they tweet him a congrats?

Time will tell, as it does with everything. It's not clear what this will to improve the CHL, but it is clear that this was might-makes-right measure to protect Canada's sense of hockey superiority.


Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to

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