By Brandon Sudeyko
Now let me clarify. That is to me. That is an opinion. And that will be explained starting now.
I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but something about Jr B I just find… blah. It would be like me watching Jr C… It won’t happen. Well I shouldn’t say that. There is always a chance that I am out somewhere and there is something happening at a rink in their territory. But it is something that I am not actively seeking, and there is something about the GOJHL that has the same effect.
It is very enticing to seek out the OHL because they are one of the three top leagues in the nation. Top two really. Well again that is an opinion. Many think the Q is top while the O would be third. Not to many people think of the W as less than number 2 in the nation.
You then have the OJHL which is the 2nd best Jr A league in the province. The CCHL takes the cake and that will be discussed later. Within the OHL you have the OJHL taking up territory in their footprint, and then moving a few hours west, you have the GOJHL. I would say something about it being the best or second best Jr B league in the province. But I don’t know enough about the CCHL2 to make a judgment.
As far as making judgments though, I have seen enough of the GOJHL to not be a fan. And there is nothing wrong with that. It isn’t for everyone and clearly not for me. I am nowhere near these cities and towns that have a franchise, I barely see or hear anything great about the league out side of the premiere events they hold (Showcases, prospects game) and even though there is a franchise within 20 minutes of where I reside (Brampton Bombers) I don’t hear anything, see anything and it looks like no one has an interest in it. Much like when I was living in Mississauga and no one talked about the Chargers.
But why is there this stigma about Jr B not being a good league, and exciting league or even a proper developmental league. I am certain it is the same for Jr A teams when a player moves up to the OHL, and maybe it is that I hear it more at the Jr A level… but whenever there are players that are moving up from the GOJHL to the OJHL, there seems to be a lot of posturing and delays when a player wants to move up. I recall last year a player was in limbo for up to 3 weeks after the deal was made. Why? Maybe the GOJHL franchise wanted to block the transfer to the Jr A league? In all actuality you cannot block the development by advancement if the player wants to move to a higher level. I believe there is also a set development fee that the franchise gets reimbursed for the time they invested into the player.
And maybe that is it right there. There are no stars. There are ‘star’ franchises. But given that I no longer consider myself a fan, I have no need to like a franchise. Take a look at all the shots I take at teams across the OJHL, or go farther back (if possible) to when I took shots at the OHL. I can no longer get excited about a franchise and root for one. I need the players to stand on their own and make it interesting.
Arguably the only one to do that for me was Connor Murphy who played two seasons with Caledonia, before committing to University of Michigan (GO BLUE!) and off to the USHL to play with the Chicago Steel and the Green Bay Gamblers this season… not to the same statistical success, which tells you how different a Tier 1 league in the US compare to a Tier 3 league in Canada.
Being able to build a Jr A league around star players is difficult enough as you have 16 year olds staying for a single year to take off for the USHL or the OHL, so imagine how difficult it is for a Jr B league to do the same.
If you have no stars to market, what are you marketing to the fans? Well it is clearly the individual franchises in their own towns. And that is great if you are live there. As mentioned, I do not, so there is nothing to hold me to this ‘boring’ league and that is ok.
It isn’t for everyone. And it isn’t for me.
Dominic Tiano adds the following:
I have a great deal of respect for Brandon and very rarely disagree with him. But in this instance I do. I must admit though, that I live in Stratford Ontario, home of the Stratford Cullitons, one of the more successful teams ever in the GOJHL who have several alumni go on to, and have successful NHL careers.
I don’t know that anyone would travel any distance to watch a GOJHL game, but for local residence its great hockey entertainment for the whole family. I for one and glad they exist and support them.