On July 19, I wrote an article about all the changes taking place within the GOJHL this season. I just realized in the last day or so that I forgot one, and it’s rather important, the change to the import rule.
For quite a few seasons now, the teams that are struggling to get and retain ‘quality players’, have been fighting for a change to the import rule.
What is the import rule? First, you should know that each team receives 35 player signing cards for the season. With those 35, in Jr. B, they are allowed to sign 9 import players in a season. I believe that the other levels of hockey get a different amount of import cards. In a game, Jr. B teams can only dress a maximum of 7 import players, in Jr. C they are allowed to dress 4.
So what is an import player? The OHA has set what we call drawing areas for each team and any player that lives within that area is considered a local player. Anyone outside the drawing area is an import player. For example, Strathroy Rockets drawing area is Middlesex & Elgin counties and anyone who played for Alvinston Flyers last season. Import players are anyone from outside those counties, so if there’s a player who lives in Watford, which is in Lambton county, but only 10-15 minutes from Strathroy, they would be considered an import player.
This is a notice from the OHA of each team’s drawing area.
The rule change. First off, the ‘smaller market teams’, as they’ve been called lately, have been fighting to have this rule expanded. Their argument is that they can’t get quality players within their boundaries. I put quotes around that earlier because I don’t buy their argument. The team that has been pushing for this is Lambton Shores Predators and considering they’ve had Matt and Ryan Rupert, John Warren, Kyle Brothers, Adam Arsenault, and Tanner Ferguson, just to name a few, it shows that they can get those quality players. All of those players, except for Warren, are from Lambton County.
Anyways, last season, as part of the application to become classified as Jr. A, the league petitioned to the OHA to change the import rule to include the entire GOJHL. What this means is that they wanted any player in the league to not be considered an import player for any team. This was not granted. What the OHA did grant was a Conference wide non-import rule.
This is their information bulletin about it.
So what this means is that any player that lives within the boundaries of the entire Conference, is not considered an import player. So back to my Rockets example from above, that player that lives in Watford is no longer considered an import.
On the fan forum, this topic is being discussed and its impact on the upcoming season. I’ve seen some comments that make me want to clarify this next point. Although the player is not considered an import, the teams are still required to obtain releases. Using the Rockets as my example, if there’s a player who lives in the City of London, we are required to obtain a release from the Nationals, because that’s who holds his rights. So if there’s a player from Strathroy that Chatham is interested in, the Maroons have to get a release from the Rockets in order to sign him. The rule change just means that he’s not an import player for Chatham.
With this rule change, it leaves teams open to signing those ‘quality players’ that are from Toronto or the United States or elsewhere not within our Conference.
The other thing I forgot to mention in my last article was the decision about wearing visors. It was proposed by Stratford to go back to wearing cages or full face shields. They had tabled this at a meeting a couple years ago and it was put over until the OHA Annual General Meeting (AGM) that took place this past June. I don’t know what was discussed, because I can’t find the minutes of the meeting, but I do know that it was put to a vote by the entire membership, and it was ruled that we would stay with wearing the visors, but it’s now the player’s decision as to if they want to wear it or not.
The last thing, and not a lot of information is available, but word on the internet is that the Buffalo Regals are forced to take another leave of absence for this season. Again, there’s not a lot of information on what’s taken place, but fans are saying that the Regals filled out the wrong form pertaining to US hockey regulations. I don’t know the US hockey rules, or what form they’re talking about, so I can’t comment on anything. I did see a tweet from Buffalo saying that they’re trying to fix the situation, but I’m not sure what that entails, or if they can. I’ve also seen something from Welland that a new schedule is being figured out, so we’ll see what happens and hope for more information to become available.
If you have any questions, comments, or you know of anything else that I’ve forgotten, feel free to comment below, or send me an email at any time, firstname.lastname@example.org