It’s been a long uphill climb for the Maritime Hockey League. Some might say the climb to respectability and validation has been an endless battle.
It seems the respect and notoriety the league deserves continues to fall short. Those that know and follow the league ultimately realize the depth of the talent pool and tremendous opportunity the league has to offer, those that don’t continue to miss out.
Sadly, it’s the players and organizations that feel the brunt of the lack of attention paid to the league.
The search for respect and attention isn’t from lack of effort or marketing, for some reason the league still remains an enigma.
Year after year, the Maritime’s quintessential Junior A hockey league continues to develop and produce outstanding players that go on to do amazing things, sadly very few talk or celebrate that. Sure, the press releases come out, showcasing the countless commitments to university, college ranks and pro levels which is amazing to see, but in many ways the league is still an untapped resource.
The league’s track record for producing players and coaches is truly remarkable, but in the “what have you done for me lately” era, the MHL continues to tread water when it comes to being considered a top tier league in Canada.
Some players fly under the radar and go unnoticed. Some players impact and value are only truly appreciated by their teammates, coaches and hockey purists. You could say the exact same thing about several junior hockey leagues across this country. The Maritime Hockey League is undoubtedly one of the most underrated and unappreciated junior circuits around.
The MHL remains the top producing league when it comes to developing players for the USports level. USports has become heavily scouted by professional leagues across the world in the past few seasons which is outstanding to see, but it appears word still hasn’t got out.
Year after year, the league continues to develop players at a torrid pace.
Year after year, the brand of hockey and the caliber of players within the league continue to skyrocket. The MHL is deeply rooted within the game in this region, so what’s missing? Why isn’t the league more heavily recruited, respected or valued?
Perhaps, it’s the Maritime way of staying too humble or not bragging about our accomplishments that are causing promotional issues for the league.
Everyone hockey mind from this region have their own perspective and theory on the matter.
From the outside looking in, the MHL continues to put up a good fight for creditability and its rightful place within the game, but what role do the organizations, it’s players and fanbase play?
The MHL and all of its organizations need to be commended for their tireless work to try to get a season and playoffs in this year. On many a night the MHL was the only junior hockey being played across the country, which in itself is incredible.
Obviously, junior hockey is a business, so many organizations fought tooth and nail on and off the ice to stay afloat during the pandemic.
Even though the league is unappreciated and underrated, Junior A hockey in this area is still flourishing.
From a far it would be great to see the league get younger and become a viable option for players and their families wanting to take the US College route. The allure still exists in many cases in the world of hockey that a departure from the region is needed to get the best opportunity or exposure to further their career. Ultimately, those decisions rest with the players and their families, but in a way that has certainly led to the league’s undervalued reputation. The product and talent on the ice should speak for itself and it does, but in many ways it’s up to all of us from this region to continue to highlight and promote the league and it’s organizations.
Junior hockey has the ability to connect communities like no other sport.
Countless players and coaches have used the Maritime Junior A ranks as a springboard to a career within the game. From the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, to the university or college ranks, to professional hockey, to the work force and beyond, the MHL continues to be a staple in this region. It’s really too bad more people aren’t promoting or recruiting it. We all have a role in that!
The marathon climb to the summit of validation and respect for the MHL continues.