A Season of Change: A look at the New OJHL
This offseason saw some significant changes to the league and some controversial ideas brought amongst the OJHL scene. The biggest story of the offseason seemed to be the proposed pay to play model, which saw it’s share of criticisms and approval. Talking with Commissioner Marty Savoy, he said that this is an “expense program to help protect the league, he also stated that some teams were losing significant amounts of money per season “ around 6 figures for some teams”. These figures allowed the league and its governors to change the business model, hence the “pay to Play” model. This was massively controversial, one of the concerns being that good talent would not be able to afford to pay fees which the commissioner referred to the Ontario Junior Hockey League Fund which is in in place for such situations.
The other significant change this year is the implementing of inter-conference play, which will see every team play each other once, in a home in home series. Talking with coaches, general managers and fans the consensus is that it is a positive for the league. It will allow the fans to see more teams and NCAA scouts to see players they would usually have to travel farther to see. The one downfall of the inter-conference play that has been stated by lots of coaches and GM’s is that the economics of it, as Colin Birkas ( HC Kingston Voyageurs) stated, “ are going to suck”. Overall it is a positive though.
Some of the smaller changes to league this year include: the Rookie of the year change to lower age limit and the testing of 3 on 3 play in OT instead of going to shootout.
The final announcement of the offseason, which was the worst kept secret, was that the Wellington Dukes will be hosting the Dudley Hewitt Cup. Asking about awarding the Dukes the prestigious tournament Commissioner Savoy stated “The Wellington Dukes are the Green Bay Packers of the league. A great organization and a great selection by the committee.” With Wellington having successfully hosted the Central Canada Cup, despite the low attendance because of inclement weather, this was the next step for the town and the organization. With many positive changes to an aggressively growing league, the excitement for the coming season is rapidly growing and hopefully the changes deliver.