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The Real Problem

As fans of major junior hockey already know, CHL teams are allowed to dress up to two European players and three 20-year-olds (over-agers) in any given game.  Reporter Sam Cosentino ponders a new concept:

In speaking with Regina Pats head coach Pat Conacher, he brought up an interesting idea: how about each CHL team gets the option of having five players on their roster that can be filled with a combination of Europeans and 20-year-olds. Think about it, for those teams that can't traditionally attract/recruit top-end European players; they would get the option to keep an extra two over-age players. It also makes sense in that such a rule would give more Canadian kids an extra year of CHL play.

It's an interesting proposal, but it would never fly.  Allowing junior teams the option of dressing up to five overagers would by no means level the playing field for the many clubs that perennially struggle to attract highly-skilled European players.  In fact, the gap between the haves and have-nots would likely widen considerably, as CHL teams with a reputation of recruiting top-notch Europeans would be able to ice up to five such players per game, instead of the current two.

The fact that some CHL teams have trouble attracting European players isn't exactly a new revelation.  What's just as disturbing is that some junior teams, particularly those based in smaller, remote cities, struggle to lure prime-time players, period. 

Last year, I wrote about Nathan MacKinnon, a 17-year-old phenom considering to be the best prospect to come out of Atlantic Canada since Sidney Crosby.  Drafted by the Baie Comeau Drakkar of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, MacKinnon refused to report to the team.  Baie Comeau eventually traded him to Halifax, where he's enjoyed tremendous success. 

While the Drakkar gained a number of useful assets and players in the MacKinnon trade, they were denied the opportunity to use the Nova Scotia native as a centerpiece in the building of a championship contender.  Halifax, meanwhile, is the top-ranked team in Canada this season, and primed to make a run for the Memorial Cup. 

As long as high-end junior players are allowed to dictate where they want to play, it will always be difficult, if not impossible, for the CHL's also-rans to compete with high-profile teams for the best talent. 

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About Tasca's Take

Tasca's Take is written by Joe Tasca. Born and raised in Westerly, Rhode Island, Joe works as a broadcaster for seven radio stations in southern New England. Whether that's a testament to his on-air ability or because he has a desparate need for money is debatable.

Joe spends his summers playing golf, enjoying the beauty of Misquamicut Beach, and wining and dining girls who are easily awed by the mere presence of a radio personality. During the winter months, he can usually be found taking in a hockey game somewhere in North America. In the spring, he spends much of his time in botanical gardens tiptoeing through the tulips, while autumn is a time to frolic with his golden retrievers through piles of his neighbors’ leaves.