The Manitoba Junior Hockey League will introduce a player development fee for the 2017-18 season, according to league sources.
It’s a move sources say that will allow for the league to better advertise itself during its annual showcase, bringing in more scouts and more attention to the event. The move will also help provide better health and dental benefits for the league’s 250-plus players.
The league has yet to officially announced the the development fees, which are said to be set at $500 per player, but sources say it is a move that has been in the works for a while. The league will take in just under $130,000.
The Sun reached out to MJHL commissioner Kim Davis, but he is away on holidays until July 24 and declined to comment.
The change is welcomed news for some in the league, including the Neepawa Natives.
“It has a lot of advantages for the players, a lot of increased benefits for the players, and something our board, our team, was in favour of,” said Neepawa Natives board member, Ken Waddell. “It’s a move that was made to make the league more attractive for current and potential future players.”
But not everyone is a fan.
Doug Hedley, head coach and general manager of the OCN Blizzard, wishes the league would have grandfathered in the fees.
“You’re now asking kids who have been in the league for two or three years to start paying $500,” Hedley said on Tuesday. “They should have eased into the situation over a two- or three-year period.”
Hedley said he will take a wait-and-see approach.
“It’s over $120,000 in their league’s coffers,” he said. “As long as the league uses the money to develop the player and the league as a place to play, with educational consultants, promotional videos on every player, nutritional conferences – whatever it is. Anything the league can do to develop a player.”
It takes a certain type of player to come play in OCN, Hedley said, and charging fees won’t help recruiting. Hedley thinks the league will likely lose players to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, who don’t charge per-player fees.
“It’s tough,” he said. “We try to do as much as we can for them, but charging them an extra $500 certainly doesn’t make it easy for them. We’re definitely not in favour of it.”
The MJHL joins the British Columbia Hockey League, who charge team registration fees for carded players up to a maximum of $800 at the team’s discretion, and a further $100 per showcase game per player. The Alberta Junior Hockey League and SJHL in Saskatchewan do not charge players to play.
To the east, the Superior International Junior Hockey League operates under a player fee system, with a minimum fee of $750 and a max of $4,500. The Northern Ontario Hockey League charged players $1,136 for their league schedule of 54 games in 2016 and an additional $350 to play in the league’s showcase.