In their infinite wisdom, the Canadian Hockey League has limited the drafting of import goaltenders to the first round in 2013 and eliminated them completely thereafter. How much Hockey Canada had to do with this is anyone’s guess. The thinking is that this will help in the development of Canadian goaltenders.
But development, as we all know, starts at the earliest age possible. One could make a reasonable argument that the cost of supplying goaltending equipment to one’s young child (equipment that he outgrows faster than some playoff beards) is forcing families to have the best athletes play either forward or defence.
Yes there are examples of players switching to goaltender later on in their childhood and succeeded – Malcolm Subban comes to mind. But they are in fact, few and far between. There are those that will argue the point and say that the Canadian goaltenders playing in the CHL have been doing it since they have started playing and it hasn’t helped in their development. That is also fact and can’t be disputed. But the question still remains: Is the cost of equipment keeping the best possible goaltenders from playing at the earliest possible age in that position? I would say in some cases yes. And that is more an issue than where a goaltender comes from.
The Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior hockey League under the umbrella of the CHL have long been thought of as the suppliers of the best talent to the NHL and the best developmental leagues in the world. Keeping the best players from playing in its leagues not only diminishes the product on the ice but I will argue that it also has a negative impact on the development of its own players.
If the old cliché is true – playing the best brings out the best in you – then why is the CHL banning what “could” be the best from playing in its league?
And what does this say about American goaltenders playing in the CHL? Are they next? Jack Campbell, formerly of the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds and Windsor Spitfires and John Gibson of the Kitchener Rangers are two American goaltenders that have been far superior in the OHL than any European goaltender in recent memory. And both have outshined any Canadian goaltender at the World Junior Championships in their time. Is Hockey Canada about to suggest that having them play in the CHL has been a detriment to the development of Canadian goaltenders?
In my opinion this decision is one of the silliest the CHL has made and they have made many controversial ones in the past.
Until there is an even playing field and every youngster in Canada has the financial opportunity to play goal at the earliest possible age if they so choose, the days of finding the next Patrick Roy or Martin Brodeur are over and we may as well get use to a future of Tuukka Rasks and Pekka Rinnes. It’s not surprising I mention two Finnish goaltenders. Finland has a National Goaltending Certification Policy and goalie coaches begin to work with young goaltenders at the age of 5.
Canada does not.
Opinions are my own and do not reflect the opinions of In The O Radio or OHLWriters