CALGARY, AB - At the Canadian Hockey Association's Annual General Meeting in May, a proposal will be tabled to reduce the Full-time National Men's Team Program to a part-time program, CHA president Bob Nicholson announced on Wednesday.
Canada is currently the only country with a full-time Men's hockey team program. The proposal is to have the team follow models in place in Europe and continue to play in major international tournaments such as the Spengler Cup, the Baltic Cup and the Sweden Games. The model used in Europe has worked well as leagues allow for breaks in their schedules for major tournaments.
It is hoped that the proposal for a part-time National Men's Team will be approved at the CHA's AGM. The program will then be monitored on a year-to-year basis.
"Overall, it is a sad day for the CHA because of the effect the program had in the 80's and 90's," said Nicholson. "However, as an association, we need to address new challenges and priorities."
With the reduction of the National Men's Team Program, the CHA would place more emphasis on areas identified as priorities during the Molson Open Ice Summit in the summer of 1999, such as the coach mentoring and skill development programs. More emphasis will also placed on the Women's Olympic and National Teams, more scouting and details in developing the National Junior Men's Team and the National Under 18 Men's Team
Canada's National Team, which has been run as a full-time program from 1963-68 and 1983-present gives Canada a presence at major international events and has also been a development program for players moving on to sign NHL, minor league and international contracts, as well as giving players the opportunity to travel the world and represent their country. A number of NHL teams have come calling in the past two years, with for instance the signings of Fred Brathwaite (Calgary), Shawn Heins (San Jose) and Chris Szysky (Ottawa) and the assignment to the National Team of NHL prospects such as Hugo Boisvert (Atlanta) and Wes Jarvis (Rangers).
Canada's National Team participated in the Winter Olympic games in 1980 through 1994, winning silver medals for Canada in 1992 and 1994. National Hockey League (NHL) players represented Canada at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. While a final decision on the NHL's involvement in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, USA is expected within a month, the NHL has given no indication on it's intentions for the 2006 Winter Olympics.