Guest Author - Kevin Thorburn
It is December and the National Hockey League is in its third lockout month. Does that mean everyone has to forget about hockey? Not at all, there are plenty of other leagues dishing out quality ice hockey for even the most discriminating of fans. Some even have a few of those NHL players.
In North America there are plenty of leagues, both professional and minor. To name a few, there is the American Hockey League (AHL). This is one step down from the NHL and here you will find where the NHL teams farm their players out for development purposes. The East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) is another talented league with affiliations with the NHL. Despite the moniker, this league extends from coast to coast and even to Alaska. The best minor hockey in the world can be found in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) which is broken down into the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League and the Western Hockey League. Most of the players that make the big league play their minor hockey here. College Hockey in the US is big, developing many NHL’ers.
Abroad, there are many highly skilled leagues that have been around a long time. Again, you will find many NHL players trying to keep up their skills on these teams. Russia, Sweden, Finland, Germany all have elite leagues, with top-notch teams and players.
As well, there are other professional leagues which have not been mentioned that certainly deserve attention. If you live in a city with one of these teams, you are missing out on some great hockey. Finally, don’t forget to support your minor hockey teams, do your best to support these kids.