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)


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.


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