In the eyes of the N.C.A.A., playing major junior hockey in Canada is considered professional, and increasingly young Canadian players are weighing their options.
The number of Americans playing in Canada’s major junior leagues has been growing for years, and American colleges are increasingly fighting back by recruiting Canadian players.
According to Paul Kelly, executive director of College Hockey Inc., there were 67 American players in Canada’s junior leagues six years ago. Now, he said, there are 131.
“As a result, there was a feeling among college coaches that the N.C.A.A. product had become diluted,” Kelly said, adding that that was why College Hockey hired him. He works for the six conferences that comprise N.C.A.A. Division I hockey in an effort to counter the Canadian Hockey League’s encroachment on American talent.
The C.H.L. is an umbrella organization for three Canadian leagues: the Western Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The C.H.L. has developed more pro hockey players than any other organization in the world, primarily for the N.H.L.