Improved OHL benefit package changes landscape

One month after new recruiting legislation passed in the U.S., the Ontario Hockey League is now reportedly making changes to the benefit package players will receive while playing in the league. (Dave Chidley/CP)
February 24, 2014, 9:37 AM

IMPROVED OHL BENEFIT PACKAGE CHANGES LANDSCAPE

One month ago, College Hockey Inc. got a shot in the arm in the recruiting battle against the Canadian Hockey League when new legislation was passed to contact players earlier in the phase.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the Ontario Hockey League is now reportedly making changes to the benefit package players will receive while playing in the league. According to Yahoo’s Sunaya Sapurji, the education package will be amended and the paltry weekly stipend for players will be replaced by a monthly reimbursement plan.

Previously, players had 18 months after their last game to use the education package. A player now will have to exercise the education plan within 18 months of their overage year, which for some players who depart the league at 19, would mean an additional year to pursue options before attending post-secondary.

The time-frame was originally kept short as a means to motivate players to continue with their education shortly after graduating from the league. Where it became counterproductive was for the player seeking to play in Europe or in the American Hockey League, since professional contracts previously negated the educational benefits, which now remain intact so long as the player doesn’t sign an NHL deal.

“I know as an agent that was the key concern for many players and their parents,” Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds GM and former player agent Kyle Dubas told Yahoo. “They were concerned about the amount of timing that gives you and the urgency… I don’t think there’s that rush anymore and I think the most important thing to me as a former agent is the fact that you can take a year and sign in the AHL or go to Europe for a year and still know that you have your education package for the next season.”

The other change, according to Sapurji, is the monthly reimbursement plan, which will give players a maximum of $470 per month for incidentals.

These changes could be major factors for OHL teams trying to lure the top teenaged players in the world to the league. The amended education package will enable players to continue pursuing their dream of pro hockey without sacrificing post-secondary education, while the reimbursement plan brings the league up with the times in terms of allotting players a financial package that will cover costs for cell phones, clothing and other incidentals.

Once the new policies are officially enacted, it’s likely similar changes in the other two leagues under the CHL’s umbrella – the Western Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League – will follow suit.

CHL, SPORTSNET PARTNERSHIP EXTENDED 12 YEARS

The Canadian Hockey League’s national broadcast home will remain with Rogers Sportsnet for the next dozen years, through the 2025-2026 season. It’s a landmark deal for the broadcaster and league, whose partnership began during the network’s inception in 1998.

More than 50 games per season will be televised on Rogers Sportsnet beginning next season, in addition to the playoffs and MasterCard Memorial Cup.

WINTERHAWKS SET FRANCHISE RECORD

The word “rebuild” just isn’t in the vocabulary of the Portland Winterhawks. One season removed from winning the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL champions after repeated long playoff runs, the Winterhawks of 2013-2014 accomplished a feat none of its previous versions had.

The Winterhawks surpassed the former franchise mark of 15 straight victories on Feb. 15, and won another five to extend the streak to 20 for good measure. Winnipeg Jets prospect Nicolas Petan helped his team achieve the feat while putting himself in elite company.

Meanwhile, Nathan MacKinnon, whose Halifax Mooseheads defeated the Winterhawks in last year’s thrilling MasterCard Memorial Cup final, received his ring last week.

DESROSIERS SHATTERS SHUTOUT STREAK

Just a few short months after Quebec’s Francois Brassard established a new QMJHL shutout streak at 212 minutes, 10 seconds in November, Rimouski’s Philippe Desrosiers broke the record, and subsequently blew it out of the water.

Desrosiers kept the puck out for a span of 243 minutes and 25 seconds through parts of six games. http://theqmjhl.ca/article/interesting-numbers-weekend-24_159530/159530 The Dallas Stars prospect was finally beat by Sherbrooke’s Jean-Francoise Lavoie midway through the second period of Rimouski’s 9-3 win over the Phoenix on Wednesday.

Sam Cosentino offers his top 10 NHL draft-eligible prospects from the QMJHL with an international flavor at the top.

Although the CHL didn’t break for the Olympics, it didn’t stop junior hockey players from following the games closely. Team Canada’s women’s gold over the Americans brought about pride and even memories from battles with the Olympians.

Not surprisingly, Friday’s Canada-U.S. semifinal was must-see TV for the teens.

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