On the heels of hosting one of the most successful RBC Cups, the MJHL is hoping to keep that momentum going heading into next season by adopting more rules that will bring the league to the next level.
At a recent MJHL Board of Governors meeting, the league implemented the mandatory rule of dressing five players who are 18 years old and under. The rule takes effect in the 2011-12 season and brings the MJHL in align with other junior A leagues: BCJHL and AJHL to name two.
Ken Petrash, GM of the Selkirk Steelers, says that this move is good for the league as a whole.
“The goal is to get kids to the Western league or get scholarships,” he says.
“[Using] more younger players means getting more scouts from that level.”
Petrash admits that while it “may hurt some of the older guys in terms of coming back [to the MJHL] from the Western league,” the change is extremely positive in terms of attracting scouts.
The introduction of new rules is allowing the MJHL to catch up with other leagues and, as a result, it is quickly becoming a well respected league in junior hockey.
“It’s a tough boat to get respect in the MJHL,” explains Petrash.
“[This change] needs everyone in the league to adapt to it, much like BC and Alberta have.”
“Success in the league means more scholarships. This might be one more step to gaining respect,” he says.
While the use of more players under 18 may mean the increase in scouting, coaches shouldn’t have to do too much adjusting to their lineups.
“No, definitely not,” Petrash says of the concern that this change will affect the ice time of the older players.
“It’s a numbers game.”
With the amount of talent available at the junior hockey level, Petrash thinks that the league may have to make more changes in the coming years in order to keep up with the talent.
“If we’re serious about it, we’re going to have to up the number [of playing five players who are 18 and under] in the next couple of years.”
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)