THE PIPELINE SHOW: Talking with the QMJHL, SJHL Commissioners and Family Advisor Colby Drost
This week on The Pipeline Show, we continue our month of “Ask the Commish” segments by looking closely at two more developmental junior leagues. Plus, an American-based family advisor shares his insight and perspective on what his job entails while helping players get to the next level of hockey.
QMJHL Commissioner Gilles Courteau
The eastern-based circuit in the Canadian Hockey League is the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, often referred to as ‘The Q.’ Continuing the “Ask the Commish” features this month on The Pipeline Show, we present a lengthy conversation with Gilles Courteau, the man who has lead the Q for over four decades.
We began our discussion looking back at a very successful year, the 50th for the QMJHL that saw two member teams in the final of the Memorial Cup hosted by the Halifax Mooseheads.
Next, we spoke about the hierarchy in the QMJHL and how much power the Commissioner has over rule changes. One of those rules we focused on was the American draft which sees each team select a pair of Americans in hopes of drawing more from the talent pool south of the border. That led directly into a conversation about potentially returning Stateside to which Courteau admitted to wanting to do with not just one but two franchises.
We spoke about the TV and online broadcasting deals the QMJHL has and also about the growing inclusion of fan-created podcasts and social media in general.
Not all the news these days is positive and we had to discuss the recent hazing allegations put forth by former QMJHL import player Yaroslav Alexeyev from his time with the Sherbrooke Phoenix. I asked Courteau to explain the steps the league is taking in the investigation of the claim, who should be held responsible and what the penalties may be.
Of course, the class action lawsuit came up with Courteau offering as much of an update as he could.
We also talked about the scholarship package available to QMJHL players, what the teams are and not allowed to offer players and if there is a difference depending on when the player was drafted.
We spoke a bit about the CHL Import Draft too and how the three leagues make sure that no teams are going rogue and circumventing the player recruitment rules.
Lastly, I wanted to know why the QMJHL website differs from both the OHL and WHL in that each team roster currently displays the names all the players the teams hold the CHL rights to whether they are actively in the league or not.
SJHL President Bill Chow
Next up in our tour around North America’s junior leagues in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League and a conversation with its President, Bill Chow.
When I asked Mr. Chow to reflect on the highlights of the SJHL’s 2018-19 campaign, his first response was “the parity in the league”. The divisional realignment the SJHL underwent after the 2013 season appears to have paid off and with a further change coming this season, fans will hopefully get to enjoy an even better playoff format.
I asked Chow to look back at his tenure as league President and how things have evolved since he took over in 2011. I also wanted to know about the structure of the league and how rule changes are handled.
We spoke briefly about the tragic Humboldt Broncos bus accident and how the league responded the following year while under the spotlight of a North American wide hockey community. Was there pressure to respond in a certain way to move forward in a way that didn’t dishonour the memories of those lives that were lost?
I redirected a number of listener questions Chow’s way that covered a variety of subjects including the SJHL draft, expansion, Hockey Saskatchewan’s developmental model and more.
Lastly, I wanted to know if the SJHL President had any concern with the outcome of the class action lawsuit facing the CHL that could see players being paid for time spent travelling by bus to and from games, participating in community work like school visits and more. As players in his leagues also ride buses, go to schools and hospitals as well, is Chow worried about an eventual trickle down to his amateur league?
Family Advisor Colby Drost
Former player turned USHL executive Colby Drost has made the transition to family advisor with his group, Paragon Sports Consulting. We started off with his description of the move to his new role and how he feels his past experience is a valuable asset to his new job.
Drost talked about the ins and outs of his role, what questions he is asked most by players and families and also how he views several different leagues that send players toward college hockey.