Draft to take place in Berwick, NS tomorrow
Earlier today, the 2018 MHL Annual General Meeting wrapped up in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Over the course of the past two days, Team Governors, General Managers and League Executive convened to discuss numerous topics designed to shape and strengthen the league in the ensuing years.
After discussion by the MHL Governors, Dave Ritcey was re-elected as the Chairman of the Board. The upcoming season will be Ritcey’s third in the role. The Truro native previously held the title of MHL Vice-President and, from 2015-16, was the President of the league. Additionally, Ritcey is a former assistant coach at the QMJHL and Hockey Canada levels.
MHL President Brian Whitehead applauded the decision of the Board.
“Dave Ritcey brings a wealth of knowledge to our Governor’s table, through his time behind the bench and in the boardroom,” Whitehead said. “I look forward to working alongside Dave once again in 2018-19 as we continue enhancing the profile of the MHL in an effort to consistently make us the league of choice for players in our region.”
The league will also welcome back the MHL Three Stars of the Week Awards beginning this fall. Early each week, three deserving players from around the league will be recognized on the MHL website for their achievements over the course of the previous week. Once a long running league feature, the Three Stars of the Week were discontinued in September, 2015 in lieu of a monthly award. The Pro-Design Cresting Rookie of the Month will remain an MHL fixture.
“After discussion with the league Executive, we felt it was appropriate to bring back the Three Stars of the Week Award as a way to heighten the profile of the players within the MHL,” Whitehead explained. “This decision allows us to highlight the accomplishments of many more players over the course of the season, giving several more players, as well as their organizations, the recognition they deserve.”
In other league news, the MHL’s AGM and Entry Draft will be making its way to Northern New Brunswick in 2019. Following a presentation by Edmundston Blizzard Governor Andre Lebel and a vote by the Board of Governors, Edmundston, New Brunswick was selected to host the event.
The Blizzard organization are entering their second season of operations following the transfer of the franchise from Dieppe, New Brunswick in 2017. Since then, the organization has been a hit both on and off the ice, leading the league in attendance and winning the MHL Playoff Championship this past spring. Now, the team and the city will be afforded the opportunity to host the rest of the league at the MHL’s biggest off-ice event of the year.
“There aren’t enough words to explain what Edmundston has meant to the league, or what the Blizzard have meant to Edmundston, during their short time in the MHL. After a presentation before the Board of Governors, it was their decision to award the hosting rights for our AGM and Draft to Edmundston. As a league, we look forward to what will no doubt be a very welcoming and professional event in Northern New Brunswick next June.”
A number of CJHL initiatives will by implemented by the MHL as well. Among those is the decision to reduce the number of permitted roster spots for 20 year old players to eight, effective as of the start of the 2018-19 season. Prior to this point, the maximum number of 20 year old players allowed on an active roster was nine. The MHL, who until this point had adhered to the policy of allowing nine 20 year olds on team rosters, will now fall in line with these changes to CJHL policy and continue to allow the maximum number of eight. Among the nine other CJHL member leagues across the country, the number of allowable 20 year old players to a roster varies.
“Year after year, the MHL has become younger and younger in terms of average player age,” Whitehead observed. “This change to CJHL policy mirrors our league’s intention to continue our focus on welcoming younger players to our league as a means to develop them for higher levels of the game.”
The MHL, in partnership with the CJHL, has also adopted the head injury protocol system devised by HeadCheck Health, a British Colombia based company that specializes in advanced concussion technologies. The company provides software and services to teams, leagues and medical clinics looking for a complete concussion solution. As a partnered league, the MHL will be provided with all necessary components of an effective concussion program, including Certified Medical Professionals to onboard, mobile software for quick sideline testing, and monthly reports documenting adherence to concussion protocols and policies. HeadCheck Health continues to work with several sports organizations, including BC Hockey, the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds and the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL. The goal of this partnership is to standardize the level of concussion care across the CJHL. All Athletic Therapists across the MHL will be trained on the proper usage of the HeadCheck software and will be provided with Certified Medical Professionals early in the season to help baseline test every player on their respective teams using HeadCheck software.
“Now more than ever, awareness surrounding concussion protocol and head injuries is a crucial part of our sport,” Whitehead said. “The CJHL’s partnership with HeadCheck Health provides all of our member teams the ability to remain proactive when it comes to the health of our players. We look forward to working with HeadCheck and the CJHL on this initiative and to continually improving our league’s safety measures.”
As has been the case in hockey circles for the past two months, thoughts and discussion during the AGM turned to the Humboldt Broncos and the tragic bus accident that claimed the lives of 16 members of their organization on April 6th. As a way to memorialize those who were lost, the CJHL will launch a nationwide show of solidarity when the 2018-19 season opens this fall. A special patch will be work on the helmets of each player in the ten leagues that represent the CJHL, including the MHL. In addition, all 132 CJHL teams will unveil a banner at their respective home openers to commemorate the Broncos organization and those who perished in the accident.
“The Broncos organization, the SJHL and the people that lost their life in this terrible accident are always in our thoughts,” Whitehead said. “It goes without saying that what occurred in April hit very close to home with all of us in the MHL. Our league proudly stands with the Broncos, the Town of Humboldt and the entire SJHL and CJHL in keeping the memory of those we lost that day alive in our hearts and minds. As a league, we applaud the CJHL on this endearing initiative.”
The events in the Annapolis Valley continue on Saturday. At 10AM, teams will participate in the QMJHL Supplemental Draft. At 1PM, the 24th Annual MHL Entry Draft will take place at the King’s Mutual Century Center in Berwick. Prior to the official start of the draft, the final three awards for the 2017-18 season – the MHL Community Spirit Award, the Roger Meek Executive of the Year Award and the Moe Bent Builders Award – will be presented.
Will MacLaren – themhl.ca08