The withdrawal of the BCHL’s 18 teams from BC Hockey membership (and therefore Hockey Canada membership) may raise questions or concerns for hockey participants and families. We hope to answer a few of those questions in this note.
For context, the BCHL had occupied the portion of our hockey ecosystem designated as Junior A. The league was comprised of approximately 360 players (although only about 45% from B.C. and Yukon) in 2022-23. This represents about 17% of Junior aged hockey players competing in sanctioned high performance hockey leagues* in B.C.
There will be a transition period while BC Hockey works with our members to clarify Junior pathways and league designations in the absence of the departing teams. The process is already underway, and it may take some time. We are committed to ensuring that all junior aged players in B.C. and Yukon that seek a high-performance environment for development will continue to have access to excellent sanctioned programs and leagues. The process of addressing any gap in our Junior pathways due to departing members will be carefully and thoughtfully navigated. Our goal is to ensure minimal disruption and uphold the integrity of the system as a whole.
We expect that the departing BCHL teams will operate as a league next season. If so, they will operate next season as a Non-Sanctioned League (NSL). We have a Policy regarding NSL participation should there be interested participants (players, officials, coaches), and/or families who wish to explore NSL options. You can find it HERE.
The departure of these members is a reminder of some of the challenges in our sport, and the complex nature of a national hockey system that must try to accommodate members with sometimes disparate goals as they deliver hockey. For more than a century BC Hockey has accepted this ongoing, but very worthwhile, challenge to deliver excellent hockey experiences in a safe, fair, sustainable and rewarding way, to all those who wish to join our game. Organizations like BC Hockey (and Hockey Canada) are built around a set of ideas, with a clear mission and a set of important values. Membership provides vast benefits, and asks its members to accept certain obligations in exchange for those benefits. This type of commitment isn't for everyone, and so we have a policy in place to address any disruptive effect that Non-Sanctioned League participation can have on sanctioned programming and our member participants.
We hope that this helps to clarify the situation with the departure of these members. Members of BC Hockey, and our participants and families, can expect clear communication, efficient resolution, and to be updated as we continue to navigate these changes.
* Approximately 2200 Junior aged players were rostered on 105 teams in sanctioned high-performance programs in 2023-24. This includes Junior Leagues (WHL, BCHL, KIJHL, VIJHL, PJHL), Hockey Canada Accredited Schools (U18 and U17), and elite zone programming (BCEHL U18AAA and U17AAA).