On Friday, the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) announced it was ‘going it alone’ and had withdrawn its membership from the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL), the only sanctioned Junior A Hockey League in Canada.
“The BCHL notified us that they are withdrawing from the CJHL and it’s unfortunate because they’re a charter member of the CJHL and a pretty high-profile group,” CJHL president Brent Ladds told Global News.
The BCHL has been part of the Canadian Junior Hockey League since the CJHL’s inception in 1993 and is widely considered one of Canada’s top Junior A leagues, having won 14 national championships.
“I think they have some operational concepts that they want to undertake and feel that maybe acting in sort of a more independent capacity they can do that,” Ladds explained.
But details on their future plans and the effect of their departure remains unclear.
Other than a brief statement on Twitter Friday announcing the league’s withdrawal from the CJHL, the BCHL is staying completely silent on their decision to go it alone.
Global News contacted all four of the BCHL’s Okanagan franchises, however, the Penticton Vees, the West Kelowna Warriors, the Vernon Vipers and the Salmon Arm Silverbacks all referred us to head office, where BCHL commissioner Chris Hebb declined our request for an interview.
There is, however, one new reality that the league and its fans will have to face in the future.
No longer a member of Canada’s only sanctioned Junior A league, the BCHL will no longer be able to compete for the title of national Junior A champions here in Canada.
“On the surface, the ability to compete for the Centennial Cup, which is the national championship, is no longer available [for BCHL], as well as the World Junior A Challenge and the National Prospects Game that we run every year,” Ladds said.
What will be available to the BCHL only time will tell.
For now, the league continues to play its COVID abbreviated 20-game season in five host pod cities across B.C.