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03-13-2007, 12:47 PM
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The Canadian junior leagues have always welcomed talented American kids to play hockey. That tradition continues today. The 16 year old rule is most likely irrelevant in most instances and most likely will not drive many kids north of the border unless they were already disposed to playing in Canada. The number of kids from hockey mad Minnesota playing in the junior ranks in Canada would be microscopically small. The option is there certainly but few take it. In Minnesota 16 and 17 year olds are focused on winning the state high school championship and junior hockey maybe in the USHL can come later as an 18 or 19 year old.
Canadian junior teams as a rule will keep a 16 year old player if it is likely that he will have something of an extended career with the team or to have something left for next year when the 19 and 20 year olds have graduated to other levels of hockey. Junior teams loaded with 19 and 20 year old are more or less out to win this year. It can also be a problem for teams keeping 19 and 20 year old players as 4th liners or asking kids playing out there junior years to participate in a rebuilding project. Kids at that age are looking to move up in hockey and want to make the best of their last days in the junior ranks.
Junior leagues do have a mandate to develop players to move up in the game. Even if a 16 year old is pretty talented most likely the kid will still need a great deal of patient coaching and time to develop. Players do develop at different rates and their payoff may not come sometimes until their 3rd or 4th year in the league.
The ban is really a solution in search of a problem. The impact of this rule will be quite narrow affecting few players and leagues. At the same time this ban won't improve things for junior leagues in the USA.

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