Goalie Prohibition. What did the CHL Learn from the European Goalie Ban?


Photo: Timo Savela

In 2013, the body that is the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) banned European goaltenders from taking any roster spots in either the QMJHL, OHL, or WHL, choosing to justify the ban by advising that the league wanted to promote and develop more Canadian goaltending prospects. The decision confused many nations in Europe, especially Finland, which became known over the past 20+ years as a nation that developed amazing goaltender talent for hockey teams in North America.

Now, in 2018, the CHL, admitting that their experiment had largely failed to have the intended outcome, lifted the ban on European goaltenders. While the data collected during the ban period was largely dismissed, what ultimately skewed the results was the emergence of more American goaltenders, as they were not affected by the ban and originally outnumbered European goaltenders before the ban was put in place, a fact that (once the data revealed it to the league) confused them as to why they had ever put the ban in, to begin with.

Once the ban on European goaltenders was officially lifted, the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL wasted no time and selected Finnish goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, aBuffalo Sabres 2nd round draft pick in 2017 (54th overall), whom the Sabres have already signed to an entry-level contract. While most will look at the pick as Sudbury getting a spectacular goaltender for at least the next 2 years, it will also be looked back on by CHL historians as the pick that marked the end of the European Goaltender Prohibition, a ban that ultimately, and unfairly, took away a valuable training ground from a generation of Finnish goaltenders.

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