When I first discovered how much money
the current EJ-South teams were going to have to pay the Eastern Junior Hockey
League for the use of the brand, I thought David Falkenstein and his group had
lost their collective marbles.|
When Falkenstein's Atlanta Knights won
the 2011-2012 USA Hockey National Championship earlier this year, I realized
that the group was crazy like a fox.
Fast forward to this past weekend's
EJ-South Fall Showcase in Charlotte and it is quickly discovered that
the group has been able to get a hefty return on the investment, in the form of
NCAA college interest, for their developing prospects.
If the definition of success is
reaching set goals, than the EJHL-South has done exactly that, and has been
able to do so way ahead of schedule. Is the EJ-South one of the premier Tier
III leagues in the United States? Until another league comes along and takes
the hardware, I'd have to say so. Aside from the Atlantic Junior Hockey League
and EJHL, all the Tier III leagues will be represented at this season's
championships, including the North American Hockey League's Tier III NA3HL.
There have been rumors that the EJHL
would like to duplicate the EJHL-South model with a Midwest division that
includes teams from Ohio, Western New York and Pennsylvania. I'm not too sure
if those plans are going to be well received by USA Hockey and I'm also not
sure if the EJHL even cares.
What I do know is that the EJ-South
has been able to carve out a nice niche for itself within USA Hockey's system
and can't see them wanting to abandon it to follow along with whatever the EJHL
We are also hearing about the
possibility of proposed USA Hockey legislation that would group midget hockey
with juniors. Personally, I really like the idea of that as long as it means
that doing so does not retard growth.
Under a combined midget-junior type of
proposal, I could see the EJ-South teams easily being able to stand on their
own without the help of the EJHL.
If the EJHL was happy and content with
the EJ-South (aside from the big money) you would think that there would be
some type of explanation or mention on the EJHL website. I'm still waiting for
that and it has been what, 15 months or so?
If the Fall Showcase was any
indication, the EJ-South has captured the attention of the colleges on their
own, and that is the last thing that the EJHL wanted to see.
"The coaches were very pleased with
the caliber of play," said EJHL-S Vice President Gary Gouin. "One coach told me
that if he could have his pick of players, that he could have a championship
team next year made up of all freshmen from the event."
The EJ-South teams could take that
concept one step further and host their own event in New England. Doing so
would certainly cost thousands less than what they are paying the EJHL for use
of the brand.
Could this be the last season of the
agreement? It will be if the southern teams simply refuse to write the big
JuniorHockey.com is the premier website dedicated to delivering
the latest news and developing stories from junior hockey across North America,
as well as providing online tools for junior hockey players and prospects. With
over 225,000 views each month Juniorhockey.com is the internet's leading source
of junior hockey news and information.
Stephen Heisler resides in Puerto Penasco, Mexico with his wife,
Maria, and their two children, Sonia and Tomas. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHeisler for up to minute updates from the world of junior