BCHL annual general meeting brings adjustments

Divisions, playoff format and rosters sizes adjusted for new BCHL season

Once again, the British Columbia Hockey League will see changes for 2012-13.

The main ones are with new divisions, playoff format and roster sizes.

When the league decided to reduce rosters from 23 to 21 for 2011-12, it left teams scrambling to find players to fill holes due to injury or other circumstances. This is a move that pleases Penticton Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson.

“I think 21 there was just no room for error,” said Harbinson. “There was a lot of teams that, the game nowadays is very rare that you have a complete roster healthy. We went quite a ways there this year where there was only so many games where we had a full roster. There were other teams that had more injuries.”

With this adjustment, Harbinson said it gives teams the luxury to have one extra forward, one extra defenceman.

“I think it’s a very good thing for the league,” he said.

BCHL commissioner John Grisdale said that some teams wanted the roster back to 23.

“Coaches like to deal with larger rosters,” he said. “It’s a different issue from the management/owners, because there is a cost for that player.”

Coaches will also be allowed to place an injured player on long-term injured reserve and bring another in to fill that spot.

As for the divisions, the BCHL will have an Interior Division, with Merritt, Penticton, Trail, Salmon Arm, Vernon and Westside. Chilliwack and Prince George were moved to the Mainland Division. The Island Division will feature Alberni Valley, Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo, Powell River and Victoria. Coquitlam, Langley and Surrey round out the Mainland Division with the new additions.

The new playoff formats for those divisions have the top four teams qualifying for the playoffs. However, the Island and Mainland Divisions will have best-of-five series played in the first two rounds to determine conference finalists. The Coastal Conference Final will be a best-of-seven series. The Interior Conference will have two best-of-seven series to determine the champion. The Fred Page Cup will also be determined in a best-of-seven.

Grisdale likes the direction the league is going and said they are doing what they can to improve what he said is “the No.1 junior A league in Canada.”

“Performance is based on three national titles in last four years,” he said. “The governors and coaches are doing the right things and make the right decisions.”

The Junior A Supplement has also been extended by Hockey Canada with its main purpose to collect data, among the problems being tracked are concussions from head shots.

“We’re finding there’s more respect,” said Grisdale. “Identified players falling into certain categories for violence. We’ve all but eliminated multiple fight situations, staged fights. That’s a positive.”

Harbinson said other changes he liked that the league is looking into implementing is the icing rule. If teams ice the puck, they can’t make a line change.

“I think it’s a great rule,” said Harbinson. “Anything we can do to try to speed up our game and less whistles the better.”

There was also discussion about a hybrid of the over the glass rule.  Teams didn’t feel it was a good idea to add a penalty.

“If it’s thrown over the glass in your own zone that you can’t change,” said Harbinson, adding that would be good.

The league will no longer do the 15-year-old affiliate draft.