It’s Time For Junior C To Flip The Switch
I was sitting in a coffee shop in one of Chatham-Kent’s small towns, and the gentlemen at the table next to me were talking hockey…go figure.
They were saying it was a shame the Dresden Kings didn’t go farther into the playoffs, but that without rookie star Brett Brochu, a 16-year-old goalie, the team wouldn’t have even made it out of round one (Kings fans I’ll leave this debate to you).
But then one gentleman went on the tangent; that Junior C hockey needs to allow more 16-year-olds, if they want to continue to be called a development league. He pointed to Brochu, Kings call up defender Ben Brooks, and Blenheim Blades rookie Cameron Symons, as players who obviously were capable of playing Junior C, and questioned how many more 16-year-olds could be positive impacts.
He wondered if the Wallaceburg Lakers could rebuild if they could bring in more youth.
He wondered why there were four 21-year-olds per team and only one 16-year-old (something our CKSN leader told me he’s written on in the past).
He wondered why these older players weren’t playing Juvenile like they used to, instead of clogging up Junior C rosters, since at that point, hockey is “only” for fun.
He wondered if Junior C would in fact be faster and more skilled if players able to make the roster at 16 could play.
I listened, and this is where I jumped into the conversation.
“Why not?” I asked them. “If the purpose of the league is to develop kids for Junior B and Junior A, why not let them play?”
At the OHL level, teams are allowed more 16-year-olds. At the Junior B level even, teams are allowed two. So why in Junior C, the base of development leagues for those above, is a team allowed only one 16-year-old?
By the end of our coffees, and then another coffee, I’d met a few new hockey friends, and we’d concluded that it’s time for Junior C hockey in Ontario to flip the script.
Our conclusion was to remove 21-year-olds from Junior C altogether. Push these players in Senior hockey, or Juvenile loops. And take all five spots originally reserved for both overagers and underagers, and give them to 16-year-olds.
With these older players out, the league would be more welcoming for youth, and would still allow younger players to compete with older players, while also serving as a true development league.
I’m not a hockey genius, but as a sports lover, this just made sense. What are you thoughts? Do you agree with us? Disagree?