Coach’s Corner: Canadian hockey is for Canadians

Don Cherry and Ron MacLean go over all the hot topics around the NHL, including the great play of Sidney Crosby, if players are targeting goalies, and why NHL teams shouldn't use their stars to kill penalties.

The Greater Toronto Hockey League, the largest minor hockey association in the world, will reportedly hold a vote in February to determine whether or not to implement a new rule that could make it more difficult for foreign players to play minor hockey in the GTA.

A growing trend in recent years has seen hundreds of foreign players move to the Toronto area in order to play in the GTHL. According to a recent report, some families from Russia are willing to pay more than $30,000 for their kids to attend private schools in order to develop their skills in the GTHL.

This has led to some backlash from Canadian coaches and parents, who believe foreign-born players taking the spot of a Canadian hurts local players’ development and can hinder their chances of being seen by scouts.

Don Cherry said Saturday on Hockey Night in Canada he wants to see the vote passed.

“What I say is this: Canadian hockey is for Canadians,” Cherry said on Coach’s Corner.

The proposed rule change wouldn’t be a ban of all foreign players. It would, however, force the parents of a foreign-born player to establish residency in the Toronto area. Otherwise they would not be allowed to suit up for a GTHL team.

“If families are moving here for family reasons and that involves their child playing hockey, that's one thing, but we're not comfortable with children moving here just because of hockey,” GTHL chief executive Scott Oakman told Rick Westhead, who broke the story.

Cherry pointed to GTHL alumni like Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano (who was never drafted) and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Connor Brown (selected 251st overall in the 2010 OHL Priority Selection Draft) who he believes might never have gotten the chance to play junior hockey if they had lost their spot in the GTHL to a foreign player.

“No matter what you say, those guys are taking the spots of a Canadian guy," Cherry said.

Ron MacLean said he had a counter argument to what Cherry was saying and that the two of them will delve into the issue further during Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada on Feb. 6.

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