The comments today from Western Hockey League commissioner Ron Robison in the Regina (Saskatchewan) Leader-Post are a comedy of intentional naivete, with the newspaper allowing itself to be the co-conspirator.
Robison is responding to the recent comments and efforts from Paul Kelly, the Executive Director of College Hockey Inc. Kelly, of course, has been out and about, critical of the Canadian Hockey League’s practices (the CHL is the governing body of the Canadian Major Junior system). All of the issues were summarized in our recent article and Q&A with Kelly.
Kelly has been admittedly aggressive in his condemnation of many of the Major Junior leagues’ practices. It’s true that, to a large extent, the CHL is doing nothing wrong, and is simply winning the recruiting war. However, Robison “hey, don’t blame us” attitude, leaves out numerous specific things the Major Juniors did to hamper NCAA efforts, as the NCAA had begun making major inroads. Robison makes it sound like they’re just the better option, so of course players would go there.
“We have never attacked or been critical of their programs whatsoever. If (going to the NCAA) is what a player chooses to do, we respect that. Our position has been simply to continue to raise awareness to the fact that in addition to having a great development league we also have an outstanding education program.”
Yeah, that great “education program” has been torn to shreds. Is that what Robison means about just making sure players have the “right information?”
The paper writes:
“We’ve always been the leaders of the development area, the leading supplier to the NHL and the national team programs. Consequently, the appointment of Paul Kelly to College Hockey, Inc., is a response to the success the Canadian Hockey League is having.”
In other words, when you’re on top, there’s always someone trying to knock you down.
Yeah, so that’s why they implemented a transfer agreement with USA Hockey that essentially cuts off U.S. kids’ options? That’s why they changed the draft age in the WHL to 14 from midget? That’s why they changed the Jr. B and Tier II rules to cut off the NCAA’s supply lines?
The Regina paper should take a hint from Jeff Hicks, the writer at the Waterloo Record in Ontario, who is the only Canadian writer I’ve seen consistently present all sides of this issue accurately, with seeing things through Major Junior-colored glasses, or regurgitating the party line.