BC Hockey offering support to youth players following BCHL break away announcement

·2 min read

SAANICHTON — The president of B.C. Hockey says his organization is disappointed but not surprised by the British Columbia Hockey League's decision to leave Hockey Canada.

Cam Hope, the president of the organization that manages youth hockey across the province, said the news is fresh but his organization is committed to helping local players who want to play with teams affiliated with Hockey Canada.

Hope added that the BCHL is an "important part of the ecosystem" in the province's hockey community, but understands that friction had been building between the league and regulations put in place by Hockey Canada for some time.

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He said that he understands that membership in B.C. Hockey and Hockey Canada can lead to frustrations with the business operations of junior A hockey clubs.

The BCHL, a junior A league with 17 teams in B.C. and one in Washington, announced on Monday that all of its franchises will start operating outside of Hockey Canada's system as of June 1. The move will allow BCHL teams to recruit 16- and 17-year-olds from other provinces, which is currently against Hockey Canada regulations.

Hockey Canada rules state that players looking to play junior A hockey must do so in their own province.

Hockey Canada said in a statement that it respects the BCHL's decision.

"While we feel strongly that our model for delivering hockey is to the benefit and safety of players, coaches, officials, parents, administrators and volunteers, we recognize that the BCHL and others are free to enjoy the game outside of sanctioned programs."

The league says that will allow players without a competitive junior A option in their own provinces to remain in Canada while maintaining their NCAA eligibility.

The BCHL says it has established its own insurance plan for players and staff to replace the Hockey Canada plan.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 2, 2023.

The Canadian Press