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From the Press Box: The Greater Good

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There’s a buzz in the air. Regular seasons across the country are officially underway or moments from starting. It’s been great to watch all the preseason action, but now it’s time to see which players and teams will take the early lead and which draft prospects will shake up predictions.

Starting in October, we’re excited to start bringing you International Scouting Services’ (ISS) lists of top prospects each month. And, we’re counting on seeing a HockeyNow Minor Hockey Player of the Year get drafted again, this time in 2015 Ontario winner Gabriel Vilardi, who is expected to do big things in Windsor this year.

We’re already starting to scope out the top minor talent in the country and putting our lists together towards selecting our Players of the Year in B.C., Alberta and Ontario. 

Every year, the task of selecting winners is harder than the year before because Canadian talent keeps growing. And of course, we have to look no further than the World Cup of Hockey to see that this is a worldwide phenomenon.

But let’s not forget that Canada has had a big hand in many recent international success stories.

For those of you who remember, it wasn’t that long ago that Canadian goalie coaches were being recruited in droves to countries like Finland and Sweden to train their countries’ goaltenders. Now, we are witnessing the effects of those initiatives and seeing super strong netminders coming out of those European countries. Many NHL teams don’t even have any American or Canadian goalies on the roster. 

This, as we know, has been considered a crisis by many and led to the CHL import draft goalie ban. Pair this with a greater focus on Canadian goaltending development on all levels, and we should expect to see a shift between the posts in the coming years. 

As far as we’re concerned, moves like the CHL’s goalie ban are all about finding the balance between too little and too much when it comes to developing international talent here. You don’t want to close the doors, but you don’t want to open the floodgates either. 

Another recent rule to affect international imports comes from the GTHL, who are making it mandatory for parents to prove they live here, or in other words, move here with their kids. In terms of costs and the other hardships that come with relocating, this can of course be seen as an obstacle, and will be for many. But when you think of these 14- and 15-year-old moving continents away to a new country where they don’t speak the language, the GTHL’s new rule just makes sense and is one that should have been in place all along.

But, no matter what, you’ll never please everyone. There will always be teams, players and parents who think we’re making it too hard to bring in international players.

 And there will always be protectionists who want to preserve Canadian talent and leagues and let only Canadian players fill the top spots. 

But there is a greater value to opening our doors to international players, particularly for those top Canadian players. 

Teams who recruit elite international players are giving everyone on the team a chance to compete at a higher level. Canadian players who are able to rise to the task will become better, those who aren’t will fall behind – which is really an inevitable result that is merely accelerated by the addition of top international talent. 

We love to hear Canadian success stories, and we love to hear stories about international talent finding success here too. Make sure to dive into this month’s cover story to hear some of these stories and learn more about the challenges these players have overcome to be able to play here.

At the end of the day, no matter how you slice it, greater competition is a good thing and should be embraced.

Tags: minor hockey

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