Saturday, August 21, 2004

Ouch! The junior vs. minor pro debate flares up in New Mexico, with W.D. Frank's impassioned (and, it should be noted, private) response prompting this post by Marc Foster.

Now, my personal POV is that the CHL is better, but no one's more qualified to express an opinion on this issue than Foster. He put in plenty of years and dollars watching those "hangers-on and guys not quite good enough." He's already on record as saying the recent Texas Tornado clubs could beat the very best Oklahoma City Blazers teams.

I dunno, because the truth is I've never seen an NAHL game. This came up before (in the context of major junior vs. ECHL), and what I said then is I don't think the junior team's half-dozen NHL or AHL prospects would make up for the fact that the next dozen are just younger, rawer, ECHL-or-lower bodies, often playing suspect defense. I also mentioned how players who come to our league from major junior, let alone Junior A or Tier II, always talk about how the CHL feels bigger/stronger, and that they have less time to make decisions.

And, judging by how violently our league's fans hate the vet rule, they'd rather have Travis Clayton for 10 years than Al Montoya for two.

But there's a big difference between the question of "could a major junior team beat a minor pro team" and "which is the more entertaining product?" As someone who spent part of 2000 enjoying the Nanaimo Clippers (check out their new ticket agent, btw) and someone who gets to watch a training camp in just eight days, I do believe a top-notch WHL or BCHL game gets the nod. Not just because you have a smattering of NHL or D1 prospects, but because, ironically, inexperienced players who can't play both ways or in a system make for a more freewheeling and explosive game.

I don't know -- meaning, I really don't know -that you can say the same about the NAHL. I do know that in the end this debate is as futile as the one about what constitutes "AA" hockey, and that even though the rink is there I don't buy Santa Fe as a spectator sport market.
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