The British Columbia Hockey League has announced several significant changes with regards to its schedule, playoffs and team roster rules that are aimed at improving cost efficiency and player development for member clubs. The changes come about as a result of a recent meeting of the BCHL board of governors.
With respect to playoffs, the following changes are being made:
– There will be eight teams that qualify for playoffs, four from each conference. This will accommodate the conclusion of the season being later and ensure a team is available when the Doyle Cup begins.
– There will be just three rounds of playoffs as one round is being eliminated. This is meant to promote competitiveness in opening rounds though this change is on a trial basis and will be reviewed after the end of next season.
With respect to the schedule, the following changes are being made so BCHL games are more accessible for fans and teams can trim travel costs:
– The 2011-12 season will begin later. Games will commence Sept. 23 and will conclude March 11 to coincide with the more traditional hockey season. Teams will be given an option to hold training camp starting in August as usual or push it back to September.
– The league will be going back to a half-interlock schedule that will see each team play every other team but not necessarily visit all buildings. Regional rivalry games will be given more attention.
– The BCHL office will be producing the schedule for the coming season. This will allow weekend dates to be maximized and may see occasional earlier start times on Saturdays to promote attendance by families. It will also ensure reduced travel for clubs with double-headers (i.e. playing the same opponent in their building Friday and Saturday) being incorporated.
With respect to team rosters, the following changes will be implemented for the coming season:
– Roster will be reduced to 21 players from 23 as in past years. This will promote player development and ensure more players dress for more games.
– Each team must carry at least one 16-year-old and one 17-year-old player. This is an effort to develop homegrown B.C. players as with the reduced roster size, these younger players are guaranteed to dress for games.
– An October selection of affiliate players will be held. It is not a true draft and is meant to simply introduce 15-year-old players to the BCHL and keep them on affiliate rosters for the season. At the conclusion of the season, teams will not keep rights to these players.
“We’re confident these ideas will be embraced by our member clubs as we continue to work through our strategic plan,” said league commissioner John Grisdale. “The BCHL looks forward to implementing these changes and improving the product we put on the ice next season.”