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Report: CHL considering ban on European goalies

May 30, 2013, 3:12 PM EDT

Carey Price Getty Images

The Canadian Hockey League is considering a ban on European goalies as a way to help Canadian and, to a lesser extent, American netminders in their development.

“The CHL has had discussions in a broader sense with Hockey Canada,” CHL commissioner David Branch told the Toronto Star. “One of the ideas put forward was eliminating goalies from the annual import draft to allow more focus on North American goalies.

“That is something we’re exploring.”

The CHL — which oversees the three major junior leagues (WHL, OHL, QMJHL) — already restricts each of the 60 teams to two European imports, regardless of position.

For Hockey Canada — which oversees the country’s various national teams — the concern with European goalies playing in the CHL is that goaltending is an area of strength for nations like the United States and Finland, but not so much for Canada.

Via InGoal Magazine:

From falling short of high expectations at the World Juniors and other international youth tournaments, to three Europeans being named as finalists for this year’s Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goalie, to only one Canadian starter (Corey Crawford) left in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, to a really short list of no-brainer top candidates for next year’s 2014 Olympic team, the steady decline in the number of Canadian goalies playing in the NHL has finally trickled down to a state of near panic at the lower levels.

Team Canada’s starting goalie for the 2014 Olympics in Russia will be a matter of much debate. Carey Price, Roberto Luongo, Corey Crawford, Cam Ward, Mike Smith, Braden Holtby, and Marc-Andre Fleury are among the candidates. But not one of them is likely to receive a unanimous vote of confidence from anxious Canadian hockey fans.

Meanwhile, the three Vezina Trophy finalists for 2013 were all non-Canadians: Antti Niemi (Finland), Henrik Lundqvist (Sweden), and Sergei Bobrovsky (Russia).

Then there’s American Jonathan Quick, the defending Conn Smythe Trophy winner who’s been brilliant again in the 2013 playoffs.

Also, Tuukka Rask, Boston’s Finnish star.

Oh, and Jimmy Howard, the American who was so good for the Red Wings.

Throw in Cory Schneider (USA) and Pekka Rinne (Finland), and you can see why Hockey Canada is concerned.

  1. 950003cups - May 30, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    That idea is stupid. Forget the discriminating part of it. What happened to IF YOU CAN PLAY YOU CAN PLAY? What happens if the European leagues ban all Canadian players? You know how many players would be unemployed?

    • davebabychreturns - May 30, 2013 at 4:32 PM

      Before you get all wrapped up in just how unjust this is, consider that a CHL team in Manitoba or Quebec is banned (!) from selecting a player born in the next province over (Ontario) by the CHL as well.

      The fact is that there are limited opportunities for players with professional aspirations, and the CHL is a developmental league – there is some obligation to offer kids in the region spots to develop their skills and pursue their careers. There are 120 goaltending jobs across the whole league and when imports are occupying a good chunk of those it cuts down on the chances locals have to continue their careers.

      It’s virtually unheard of for a 16 year old Canadian to go play in a developmental league in Sweden or Russia or the Czech Republic so eliminating spots these kids can get into in the CHL is a real blow to their chances.

      Sure some of them can go to second tier junior hockey and hope they get a shot in the NCAA but that path isn’t right for everyone.

      Anyway the CHL has to balance between being a developmental league that looks out for the best interests of kids (local kids included) looking to earn a chance at a professional career, and a business that needs to get fans into the building; I think that continuing to import high end European skaters while protecting an extremely limited number of spots available to North American goaltenders is a decent compromise in terms of fairness and viability for the business.

      • mblue53 - May 30, 2013 at 4:45 PM

        Not true …

        In the Ontario Hockey League in 2012-13, 14 of the 20 most utilized goalies were Canadian. Two each were from the U.S. and the Czech Republic, while one each came from Germany and Sweden.

        In the Western Hockey League in 2012-13, 15 of the 20 most utilized goalies were Canadian. Two are from the Czech Republic and there is one each from Russia, Finland and the U.S.

        In the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2012-13, 18 of the most 20 utilized goaltenders were Canadian. One is from Finland, the other from Germany.

        So, 47 of the 60 most utilized goalies in the CHL are Canadian. It’s not a matter of opportunity. It’s a matter of talent, or lack thereof.

      • 950003cups - May 30, 2013 at 4:46 PM

        “It’s virtually unheard of for a 16 year old Canadian to go play in a developmental league in Sweden or Russia or the Czech Republic so eliminating spots these kids can get into in the CHL is a real blow to their chances.”

        Thats where I take issue. You’re saying It’s ok to ban their players from developing in Canada. But when a Canadian goalie can’t a decent job here, its ok for him to go to Europe and take jobs away from European ones.

        Is the game about developing the players, or developing the game?

        Why just ban the goaltenders? Why not ban all players? Cause the Canadian kids can’t develop if they’re shooting at a European goalie?

      • davebabychreturns - May 30, 2013 at 4:58 PM

        @mblue53 – I realize the majority of goaltenders in the CHL right now are non-import players (ie. not Canadian or American). That doesn’t really have anything to do with my point, in case you thought I was complaining that there are no jobs for Canadian and American goaltenders. There are, just fewer than Hockey Canda would like. USA Hockey doesn’t care because they run an entire league for the sake of developing junior age Americans, perhaps we should focus on the injustice of that league too?

        @950003cups you must have misread my post. I’m saying that Canadian and American junior players rarely (if ever, I can’t think of an example) go play in European developmental leagues, so it is tougher for them to get opportunities when the only major junior level hockey they have access to is opening up competition with European players (who can play either here or there). In essence I said pretty much the oppposite of what you’re taking from my comment.

        As for whether the CHL is about “developing the players” or “developing the game” they are mostly about putting butts in seats which is why you have historically had goons patrolling those rinks and yes, why they have import players to allow the highest level of hockey possible. Like I said I think being more restrictive about goaltending positions is one way to compromise between the bottom line for the CHL (ie. entertaining, high level hockey) and the developmental mandate (ie. developing players and more specifically local players) they must at least pay lipservice to.

    • mblue53 - May 30, 2013 at 4:34 PM

      Why not ban American goalies as well? I would expect that to follow. Maybe the US colleges can return the favor.

      • davebabychreturns - May 30, 2013 at 4:43 PM

        American junior players are not “imports” who are already restricted in the CHL. European juniors are.

    • hockeyflow33 - May 31, 2013 at 1:30 AM

      There are already restrictions on imports in the euro leagues as it is, especially on goalies.

  2. blitzinc43 - May 30, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    Canadian scouting for goaltenders is actually very bad. The checklist is as follows: (1) height (2) percieved body type (3) who’s dad can pay them

  3. frankiesweep - May 30, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    Will Canadians blame the lack of quality Canadian goaltenders on Gary Bettman….. It’s their go to line when something doesn’t go their way.

  4. frankiesweep - May 30, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    I bet if the person is a gay euro they can play… That will be the exception.

    • elvispocomo - May 30, 2013 at 6:04 PM

      Wow,I thought your last comment was bad, but you followed it up with an even worse one…

  5. sjsharks66 - May 30, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    Am i the only one who finds this extremely wrong?

  6. obamareallysucks - May 30, 2013 at 3:45 PM

    how can a gay goalie play with that limp wrist?

    • ibieiniid - May 30, 2013 at 4:05 PM

      and unprotected 5 hole.

      …i hate myself for that one

    • 950003cups - May 31, 2013 at 12:16 PM

      @obamareallysucks great name, bad comment

  7. pmonte3122 - May 30, 2013 at 3:56 PM

    That’s a bad idea, then again it’s gonna make it a bit harder to find a potential gem tender in the draft

  8. mblue53 - May 30, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    Most of Canada’s goalies suck…That’s why Canada is considering the ban, which will likely extent to USA goalies as well. The best from up north are..Carey Price (solid), Roberto Luongo (backup to American Corey Schneider), Corey Crawford (solid), Cam Ward (so so), Mike Smith (so so) , Braden Holtby (decent), and Marc-Andre Fleury (benched for the playoffs and replaced by Euro Tomas Vokoun).

    The best goalies in the world are from the USA or Europe.

    Why do they suck? Because goaltending is an incredibly expensive position with huge equipment and goalie coaching costs. Most Canadians are scraping by pay check to pay check with little take home pay after being taxed heavily to pay for their health care system. It’s just too expensive of a position. You get what you can afford to pay for. But banning Euro’s won’t fix Canada’s goaltending problems.

    • davebabychreturns - May 30, 2013 at 4:42 PM

      I don’t even know where to start.

    • ibieiniid - May 30, 2013 at 4:43 PM

      i was kinda with you up to the point of “WHY do they suck.” I really doubt the difference is the cost of being a goalie. I bet it’s more of a social thing. i mean, Canadian kids play pond hockey unlike the US… and there’s not necessarily goalies in pond hockey.

      • mblue53 - May 30, 2013 at 4:48 PM

        It’s an area of weakness. Otherwise, there would be no banning going on. They recognize that they suck. This is Affirmative Action Canadian style.

      • ibieiniid - May 30, 2013 at 4:49 PM


        way to change the subject from what you said initially.

    • elvispocomo - May 30, 2013 at 6:22 PM

      Okay, I plused your earlier post for the stats included on what percentage of goalies in use were Canadian in the CHL, but you’ve gone from mostly reasonable to completely crazy in one page (or rather from completely crazy to mostly reasonable since you posted this one first).

      Even if there was some truth to this, wouldn’t Swedish goalies be much, much worse? The have some of the highest tax rates. Even Finnish goalies would suffer, as they still have higher tax rates than Canadians.

  9. 19to77 - May 30, 2013 at 4:33 PM

    I get that goaltending has been the weak point in the last few World Junior teams, but this is stupid. European goalies deserve as much of a chance as anyone else, and Canadian goalie scouting needs improvement. This is a cop-out. Scouting and development need to improve. Barring potentially better goalies from participating won’t fix the actual problem, it’ll just hide it at the junior level.

  10. FireBettman - May 30, 2013 at 5:10 PM

    Is anyone else really surprised by this? Canadians seem to think they still run hockey and no one else knows how to play. It’s been shown numerous times and this is just another example. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of Canadians aren’t like that, but they still show huge homerism. And just in general I’m my dealings with many Canadian players and coaches they act as though they are better than everyone else just because they’re Canadian

  11. jacketsfan7 - May 30, 2013 at 5:15 PM

    That’s discriminating , I hate that idea , that’d ruin the chl and possible potential stars for the NHL

  12. jacketsfan7 - May 30, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    Add in tomas Vokoun as a European goalie having success in the playoffs now

  13. pastabelly - May 30, 2013 at 6:07 PM

    This was all a matter of time. As USA hockey continues to develop, Americans will be banned too.

  14. tescosuicide - May 31, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    Hasn’t there only been like, one Russian goalie with a cup? I mean that actually played in the finals?
    It would suck if they extended the ban to include US goalies.
    In regards to the post, how could they just ban the Euro net minders and not the players? Seems like Canada is just salty over losing the world games 😉

  15. kingsforever - May 31, 2013 at 1:18 PM


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