Lockout Alternatives #3 – Canadian Junior

So LOCKOUT 12/13 is now a month old and you’re craving hockey. Don’t sit back and waste away in a hockeyless desert, jump into the thick of things ASAP and get to know one of the many options available to you. We’ve already featured the AHL and KHL, both professional leagues with varies advantages and disadvantages. However, maybe neither is the right fit for you and you’d prefer a league with a more distinct Canadian feel to it. Well look no further than the CHL, Canada’s Junior hockey program.

The CHL itself is actually a governing body for the three Major Junior leagues in Canada, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League, and the Western Hockey League. Each of these leagues represents players generally from 16 to 20 years of age mostly hailing from cities or towns located within the league’s respective region. So the QMJHL is mostly comprised of players from Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, the OHL mostly consists of players from Ontario, and the WHL is primarily players from the Western provinces. Each league also allows for a moderate number of import players from the United States and Europe as well.

But why should you watch the KHL during the lockout? Here are the top 3 reasons…

  1. Location. If you live in Canada, chances are you live near a CHL franchise. There are currently 52 teams spread out across 9 provinces, giving the majority of Canadians easy access to a team or multiple teams. You can enjoy local coverage on TV, radio, or print, and even attend games in-person at a much more affordable cost than it would be to see an NHL game in Canada. Americans aren’t left out either, especially the state of Washington, which is home to four WHL teams. There are also two teams in Michigan and one each in Oregon and Pennsylvania.
  2. Action. Though the leagues may not be as intense and competitive as professional leagues, it does have plenty of action, especially on offense. High scoring games are far more common in Canadian Junior, largely due to the nature of players developing their offensive capabilities before defense, so if you’re looking for goals and a more wide-open game you’ve come to the right place.
  3. Presentation. One unique aspect of the CHL that no other league has is the annual best-on-best Memorial Cup tournament at the end of each season. This tournament pits the champions of the QMJHL, OHL, and WHL playoffs, along with a host team (this year Saskatoon), against each other for the crown of junior hockey supremacy. It’s one of the biggest sporting events in North America and always highly entertaining, featuring some of the best recent draftees and prospects in hockey.
Each of the three league’s seasons got underway in September, so if you haven’t started watching yet you’re not missing much. Start watching now and you’ll get to know a lot of the players that will soon be involved in the World Junior Championship this coming December.