I think I speak for the consensus. The CHL’s Subway Super Series has run its course. The Canada-Russia rivalry has always been on the forefront in hockey, and there’s no doubt that the CHL hoped to capitalize on its popularity when the series – formerly known as the Remax Challenge and ADT Challenge – started back in 2003. Eight editions of the series have since passed, and it’s becoming clear that series is desperately in need of a new injection of life.For those who aren’t familiar with the series, every year a Russian hockey team comes to North America to play two games against the respective all-star teams from the WHL, OHL, and QMJHL. These all-star teams only consist of Canadian born players, and overagers are not eligible to play in the game. Often a Russian player playing in a particular league may suit up with the Russian team for a game as well. In total there are six host cities for the series that runs each November and shifts from Eastern Canada in the QMJHL and eventually ends out west in the WHL.
Only once has the Russian team come away victorious in the series, with 2010 also being the first time in series history they’ve managed more than 2 wins. The series has been marred by issues; such as the Russians sending over weak teams, – not that KHL teams are looking to release their star players in the middle of the season – issues following a ten day series that stretches across Canada, and more recently, host cities struggling to sell out their games.
This brings me to my idea. I like the notion of the Russia-CHL series, but I think the CHL can do better with what it has and it is getting to the point where it’s time to move on towards something new. The three leagues – WHL, OHL, and QMJHL – have evolved their brands considerably over the past decade, and it’s time to realize some of that value. The CHL currently has a trove of European talent playing within the ranks. Why not utilize them? Well that’s a start, but why not take it a step further. The CHL also has a strong contingent of American players across the three leagues, and I think you can see where I’m going with this now.
I’m proposing the idea of a new tournament to replace the Subway Super Series. This tournament would see three teams formed from the ranks of CHL players to create a tournament with Canada, the United States, and Team Europe (or whatever you want to call it).
Here is the rough framework behind the concept:
• 1 Host City
• Tournament spanning from Thursday-Sunday, with each teams playing the other once. The Top two teams go on to play a final game on Sunday. Tiebreakers could be necessary given the fact the “round-robin” would be brief.
• Have a 24-man roster for each team with 8 players on each team coming from the WHL, OHL, and QMJHL. Additional CHL specific rules such as three overagers could be used to ensure that they are also represented in the series.
• Host Cities would cycle between each of the leagues over a 3-year course in the same way the Memorial Cup process is currently allocated.
Seems simple enough, right? Well I think this type of new tournament could have some legs. First of all, it’s a great opportunity for the league to market what it has. There’s a wealth of young talent playing in the CHL, and those players are not just from Canada. This is a great way for the CHL to showcase what each league has to offer; and a system where players would be prevented from playing due to their nationality.
This has value for national hockey organizations. The current iteration has the series fall in November, a good opportunity for Hockey Canada to evaluate the bulk of the players who will have a shot at cracking the World Junior team in December. Well this format allows other international federations such as USA Hockey and European federations to see how their players stack up at an elite level of competition.
Could this replace the league’s all-star games? That’s a possibility. The OHL didn’t hold an All-Star Game last season due to high costs, difficulty generating exposure, and the number of “extra-curricular” events that already populate the league’s schedule. Would the other leagues consider bypassing their all-star games in favour of a November international showcase of CHL talent? Well that’s a possibility.
This format also has a ton of potential for the CHL and each of its three leagues. An event like this could replace the floundering Super Series with a new marquee event that provides the CHL with a major draw in the first portion of the season to get excited about. The CHL already has a great television setup with Rogers Sportsnet in Canada, and there’s no doubt that this type of showcase could generate national exposure across Canada. Additionally, it would be a hot commodity for CHL franchises to host. Each league could even use it as a trial point to see if a particular city is capable of hosting a larger spectacle, the Memorial Cup.
Finally, you can’t undersell the entertainment value of this tournament. The Subway Super Series has lost its lustre, and even with a fairly competitive Russian team last year, the average fan isn’t following the series throughout, nor do they know anything about the Russian team coming over. Replace that with an abbreviated weekend long showcase featuring CHL players from each league and you might just have something that the fans might be interested in.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this type of setup, whether you’re enticed, or if you think I’m completely out of my mind. But before I leave you, I’ll take a quick stab at putting together some potential rosters for each team if this showcase was held in 2011. Note that I’m almost guaranteed to miss some players so don’t read too much into it.
Remember, though, I’m limiting the teams to only 8 players from each of the WHL, OHL, and QMJHL. The only issue could be the Team USA as the QMJHL has fewer than 10 American players in the league, and even the WHL has a limited number of quality American players. They could certainly be the team to throw off this concept, and frankly I had a lot of difficulty even putting their team together. Perhaps they may be the team that throws off the 8 players from each league balance, but I’m merely proposing a new idea and it’s far from refined.
Jonathan Huberdeau (QMJHL) – Ryan Johansen (WHL) – Brett Connolly (WHL)
Tyler Toffoli (OHL) – Sean Couturier (QMJHL) – Ryan Strome (OHL)
Greg McKegg (OHL) – Mark Scheifele (OHL) – Christian Thomas (OHL)
Quinton Howden (WHL) – Phillip Danault (QMJHL) – Mark Stone (WHL)
ex. Michael Bournival (QMJHL), Mark McNeill (WHL)
Brandon Gormley (QMJHL) – Dougie Hamilton (OHL)
Ryan Murphy (OHL) – Ryan Murray (WHL)
Nathan Beaulieu (QMJHL) – Mark Pysyk (WHL)
ex. Jerome Gauthier-Leduc (QMJHL)
Mark Visentin (OHL)
Kent Simpson (WHL)
ex. Louis Domingue (QMJHL)
Stefan Noesen (OHL) – JT Miller (OHL) – Emerson Etem (WHL)
Austin Watson (OHL) – Alexander Galchenyuk (OHL) – Jared Knight (OHL)
Brandon Saad (OHL) – Tyler Maxwell (WHL) – Shane McColgan (WHL)
Shane Prince (OHL) – Vincent Trocheck (OHL) – Jonathan Parker (WHL)
Jarred Tinordi (OHL) – Austin Levi (OHL)
Nick Ebert (OHL) – Collin Bowman (WHL)
Beau Schmitz (OHL) – Daniel Milan (QMJHL)
ex. Dylan Blujus (OHL)
Jack Campbell (OHL)
Mac Carruth (WHL)
ex. Michael Houser (OHL)
Nail Yakupov (OHL) – Mikhail Grigorenko (QMJHL) – Nino Niederreiter (WHL)
Sven Bartschi (WHL) – Stanislav Galiev (QMJHL) – Tom Kuhnhackl (OHL)
Nicklas Jensen (OHL) – Vladislav Namestnikov (OHL) – Alexander Khohklachev (OHL)
Martin Frk (QMJHL) – Rickard Rakell (OHL) – Tomas Jurco (QMJHL)
ex. Tomas Filippi (QMJHL), Andrej Kudrna (WHL)
Olli Maatta (OHL) – Martin Marincin (WHL)
David Musil (WHL) – Albin Blomqvist (WHL)
Adam Janosik (QMJHL) – Konrad Abeltshauser (QMJHL)
ex. Martin Gernat (WHL)
Christopher Gibson (QMHL)
Petr Mrazek (OHL)
ex. Steffan Soberg (WHL)
Tags: nhl draft prospects