With the NHL Draft Lottery set to take place and the CHL Import Draft ready to go early next week, hockey is slowly taking steps to get back to some kind of normalcy. Sure, it’s far from what we’ve all been used to during past offseasons, but as it’ll be noted later, maybe that isn’t such a bad thing when it comes to junior hockey.
As such, it’s that time again to get back to some news and notes from around the world of junior hockey in what seems to be a game-changing offseason for the three major junior leagues in North America.
With that, here’s a look at some of the top headlines over the past few days.
Fritsche, WHL Allegations Continue Road to Change
On Thursday, more news broke of allegations supporting what has already been an eye-opening offseason for the CHL. After former Kitchener Rangers’ forward Eric Guest posted a video discussing his experiences as a rookie with his OHL club, news surfaced regarding Dan Carcillo and his civil suit against the CHL and what he endured during his time in the league.
Thursday’s allegations come from a former WHL player, who wishes to remain unnamed at this time, and former OHL and NHL forward Dan Fritsche who says he will join Carcillo’s suit – one that already includes another former player in Garrett Taylor.
While Fritsche was critical of his time with the Sarnia Sting under head coach Jeff Perry, who declined to comment on the issue according to The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline, the former WHL player who also shared his story is saying that those involved in his abuse during his playing days now hold prominent roles in the hockey industry.
Considering the door has clearly been opened for those to come forward with their stories, this is an issue that is far from over for the CHL and those involved.
In a statement released by the CHL, they wrote, “We are deeply troubled by the allegations in the recently announced class action, many of which are historic in nature and we believe are not indicative of the leading experience our players receive in the CHL today. Regardless of the timing, we are taking the claims very seriously as the protection of our players has been and will always be our primary concern.”
They continued by saying, “the CHL Board of Directors unanimously agreed to the appointment of an Independent Review Panel to thoroughly review the current policies and practices in our leagues that related to hazing, abuts, harassment and bullying and the allegation that players do not feel comfortable reporting behaviours that contravene these policies.”
For now, we’ll await further news from both a players and league perspective pertaining to this issue.
Yantsis, Golden Commit to Universities
In other news, two current OHL overage players have committed to Ontario universities as both Kitchener Rangers’ forward Jonathan Yantsis and Erie Otters’ defenceman Jacob Golden will report to post-secondary facilities when hockey resumes.
Yantsis, who had 39 goals and 59 points in 63 games for the Rangers in 2019-20, is headed to the Queen’s Golden Gaels. While Golden, a Minnesota Wild draft pick, will be headed to McGill University following a 27-point campaign with the Otters in 2019-20.
It’s also worth noting that Golden was named the recipient of the Roger Neilson Memorial Award as the OHL’s top academic post-secondary student – something that will follow him to McGill.
Frontenacs Announce OJHL Partnership
Speaking of new beginnings, the Kingston Frontenacs announced on Wednesday that they reached a new partnership with the OJHL’s Cobourg Cougars beginning with the 2020-21 season.
“We look forward to this new venture with the Cobourg Cougars,” said Frontenacs GM Darren Keily in the press release. “The two organizations will work closely to ensure our goals are one in the same and continue to work on developing a strong relationship.”
The Cougars last won the National Championship during the 2017 season and will look to be part of a system that feeds players in the Frontenacs depth chart moving forward.
Team Canada U17 Selection Camp Roster Announced
Wednesday was also a big day for a number of players looking to represent Canada at the Under-17 World Juniors as they were named to the development camp roster.
The list included 35 players from the WHL, including Josh Nidermayer, Jordan Gustafson and Connor Levis.
There were 28 players from the QMJHL invited, including Riley Mercer, Jake Furlong and Samuel Savoie.
And there were 49 OHL players named to the development roster, including Bryce McConnell-Barker, Gavin Bryant and Adam Fantilli.
While there are a ton of players invited, it should be quite the competition to narrow down the options for the Canadian crew.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.