By Sean McIntosh
PETERBOROUGH – The Canadian Hockey League’s ban on European goaltenders is not a necessity, some Peterborough Petes players say.
Starting in 2014 the CHL, which includes all three major junior leagues in Canada (the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League and the Western Hockey League), will not be allowed to draft goalies from European countries. Hockey Canada, controller of a vast majority of hockey in Canada, including junior and international play, says its reason for the ban is a lack of Canadian goaltender development.
“I think it’s the fact that Hockey Canada is scared,” said
the goaltender for the Petes. “In a way it is okay that they’re doing it for Canada’s sake; they’re trying to improve our country and make our goalies better. But if you’re going to eliminate European goalies, it’s like eliminating European left wings.”
The ban, Guigovaz added, is “definitely not a necessity. If you’re good you’re good. They’ll find you wherever you are.”
Petes forward Jonatan Tanus, a native of Tampere, Finland, is the only European-born player on the Peterborough roster. “I think there’s three import goalies” in the OHL, Tanus said. “It’s not that many, so I don’t know why they’re banning them.”
Like Giugovaz, Tanus expressed confusion over the decision to bar Europeans who play one position.
“It’s kind of weird taking one position away. You might as well tell left wingers to not come to Canada. But I’m not a goalie so I don’t have to worry about that.”
Andrew D’Agostini, the Petes’ goaltender since 2009, said he doesn’t believe the ban will necessarily affect European goalies’ chances of making it to the professional level.
“Most (European goalies) make their way over from Europe (to the National Hockey League), so they’re getting exposure there. And as for this rule, I don’t have much to argue for or against it.”
The Petes’ goalie coach, Andrew Verner, who has played the position in Germany, Austria, Sweden and Finland during his career, said the van shows concern for Canadian goaltenders who are stuck behind international goalies in the CHL. He cited the example of current OHL goalies Jordan Dekort and Alex Fatinos playing behind import goalies early in their careers.
Dekort and Fatinos “both got buried for two years behind import goaltenders,” Verner said. “I would’ve pegged Jordan Dekort as a guy who could’ve played 150 or 200 games in this league.” Dekort, now playing for the Kitchener Rangers, has only played 51 in four years of major junior hockey.
And while some Canadian goaltenders’ development is being halted by the presence of Europeans in the league, some of those European goalies may return to their home countries after being developed by Canada, he said.
“Who are we developing them for? I guess we’re developing them to go back to Germany, Sweden, Austria and Finland.”