Thursday, January 19, 2012

BCHL Landscape Changes Once More:


First off, kudos to the BCHL for releasing the details surrounding its semi-annual governors' meeting which concluded today in Richmond.

I know the league has traditionally held off releasing this type of information, but in this day and age, it's likely that details would have filtered out anyway and better that it come from the official source as opposed to teams or media releasing it.

Obviously the biggest change involving the 2012-13 season is the inclusion of the Prince George Spruce Kings in the Coastal Conference. It's a wacky move to me, but I can understand that with PG being "on its own" up north, they had to fit in somewhere. As the release below states, a playoff format for 2012-13 has yet to be determined.

Either way, after 16 seasons in the Interior Conference/Division, the Spruce Kings now find themselves alongside the usual Coastal Conference teams. Hey, stranger things have happened - at one point in the 1970's the Vancouver Canucks played in the East Division of the NHL and look at the Winnipeg Jets this season, they're in the Southeast Division.

But I digress, so the 2012-13 BCHL season looks like this:

Coastal Conference
Mainland Division
Chilliwack Chiefs
Coquitlam Express
Langley Rivermen
Prince George Spruce Kings
Surrey Eagles

Island Division
Alberni Valley Bulldogs
Cowichan Valley Capitals
Nanaimo Clippers
Powell River Kings
Victoria Grizzlies

Interior Conference
Interior Division
Merritt Centennials
Penticton Vees
Salmon Arm Silverbacks
Trail Smoke Eaters
Westside Warriors
Vernon Vipers

One other big change to come out of the meeting is the reduction of the regular season schedule to 56 games. I personally love this idea (although the broadcasters who get paid on a per-game basis won't!). What I like about it is that it reduces the wear and tear on the players, reduces some costs for the teams, fans aren't likely to miss the two home weekday games that will be dropped as a result and it ensures that the league can continue with the later (and more traditional) start date of the second weekend of September for the regular season.

And I LOVE the idea of a showcase event. Although the location and dates are to be determined, here's a release from the AJHL's website to give you an idea of what the weekend is all about:

"The AJHL Showcase is a unique opportunity for the scouting community to evaluate AJHL players in one location as they compete against one another. The AJHL Showcase will include each of the League's 16 teams playing two regular season games apiece. 400 players will participate in the three-day event at the TransAlta Tri Leisure Centre."

"Through the first three years of the event, nearly 300 Scouts from the NHL, NCAA, CIS, CHL and NHL Central Scouting have experienced the talent of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. In addition, hundreds of media representatives and over 10,000 fans have enjoyed this unique showcase of talent in Alberta."

Here's the official release on all the changes, from the BCHL website:

January 19, 2012

For immediate release:

The British Columbia Hockey League passed a number of significant motions Thursday at the league’s semi-annual governors meeting in Richmond. The changes will take effect in the 2012-13 season.

To allow more fans to attend games, governors voted to lower the number of regular season games from 60 to 56. This will decrease the number of mid-week games when fans are less able to attend. Now, a greater percentage of home dates can be held on the prime nights of Friday and Saturday.

Also, a showcase event will be held Sept. 7 to 9 at a site yet to be determined. The showcase is similar to events held in the Alberta and Saskatchewan Junior Hockey leagues where college and professional scouts are invited. Showcase results will count in the regular season standings. Each BCHL team will play two games at the event meaning all teams, except the host of the showcase, will then have 27 home dates in the 2012-13 season. Any revenues from the showcase will be split up amongst the league’s 16 clubs. Teams are being asked to submit by Feb. 1 their bids to host the event.

Another motion that passed was the decision to move the start of the regular season to Sept. 14, 2012. This will mark the date that the standard BCHL regular-season format shall commence though by that point, two regular season games will have been played at the showcase event by each team.

The season will end March 10, 2013 which means the coming season is two weeks longer than normal. This also will allow more games to be scheduled on prime nights rather than mid week.

With respect to the alignment of the conferences, there will be now be 10 teams in the Coastal Conference and it will be split into two groups called the Island Division and Mainland Division. The Island Division will include Victoria, Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo, Alberni Valley and Powell River. The Mainland Division will include Coquitlam, Surrey, Langley, Chilliwack and Prince George.

Prince George will be given the option to return to the Interior Conference after the conclusion of the 2013 playoffs. With Prince George and Chilliwack set to join the Coastal Conference, the new Interior Conference will include the remaining teams: Merritt, Trail, Penticton, Vernon, Salmon Arm and Westside.

“These decisions were not made in haste and came only after lengthy debate by our governors,” said BCHL commissioner John Grisdale. “The BCHL considers itself an innovator and model for Junior A hockey in Canada and these decisions, not all of them unanimous, have been made with the intention of ensuring the long-term viability of our league.”

Each club has been asked to submit new playoff format ideas to the BCHL office by Feb. 1, 2012. After that, a decision will be made and announced.

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