How good is MHL compared to CHL/WHL/QMHJL?
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11-20-2012, 12:19 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Calgary, Alberta
At this point it seems a little tricky to compare the two as both games are marginally different. That's the obvious part I can say with the limited amount of MHL action I have seen. It appears that the talent is definitely there, but I would have to say the biggest difference is the culture.
First of all, stating the obvious, the extra 15 feet on the boards makes huge difference in offensive and defensive approaches. The extra room makes for more fluent breakouts and a higher difficulty to close the gap as a forechecker. In Russia, you see offensive rushes where the F1 typically carries the puck in past the blueline and uses the room to make a play, whereas in Canada a lot of the times the defenseman will angle that forward out and force him to play the puck deep into the corner where the F2 will then try to bulldoze the other defenseman before he can play the puck out of the zone. Just a small example of the difference of styles.
The biggest thing that separates the leagues is the physicality and the mentality of the physicality. I know there are some massive hits in the MHL, but it''s not the same. Canadian junior hockey culture is all about finishing your checks and laying guys out. I remember when I started playing competitive hockey in bantam and midget it seemed like the puck didn't even matter out there and you had to keep your head up all the time or you'd get smashed for sure. Then there's the fights... they are certainly not for everybody, but they are a very much a part of the game here. In the WHL, its uncommon to see a game without at least one fight, and it's quite common to see games that have a lot of them. The brute mentality is the biggest difference I see in the leagues.
Having said all that, I think what's happening with the MHL is great for the overall game and I hope it continues to flourish and grow. I'm with Vorky on hoping the World Junior Club Cup meets its potential sooner than later, but unfortunately there are still some grey areas so it''s still closer to an exhibition tournament than a championship tournament, but as the years go on I think we will have a better understanding of how close these leagues are to one another. Hopefully Hockey Canada starts taking it a little more seriously.
I guess to put a final stamp on my little summary, I would say that the WHL, OHL, and QMJHL are the closest thing you are going to get to to the style of the NHL, and the MHL has the closest resemblance to the KHL. I can see a lot more players staying home now because the quality of hockey is better, but for a high end player who is looking for a career in the NHL, it might still be wise to go to Canada, where they can adapt to the culture and style. To close out, I want to add that I think it would be awesome if Canadian kids started going over there and joining junior teams in the future.
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