Non Sanctioned Leagues Operating Outside the Auspices of Hockey Canada

The Chilliwack Minor Hockey Association Board has received questions from our membership on the HSL program that has sent out details on their program to some Chilliwack families.  In an effort to ensure that you have the information you need to make the right decisions for your own family needs we felt that it was prudent to provide the attached Question and Answer Document, Hockey Canada Bulletin and BC Hockey Bulletin for your review.  Should you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out to the CMHA Board with any questions.  


Q: What should I know about unsanctioned hockey programs and/or leagues?


Non-member programs or unsanctioned leagues are leagues that are not affiliated with Hockey Canada and operate outside of Hockey Canada’s existing minor hockey system. Unsanctioned leagues are wholly responsible for their own oversight. It is up to each individual unsanctioned league to determine how issues like injuries, harassment and rule infractions are handled.

In some cases, unsanctioned leagues operate without a constitution, without bylaws, without insurance and with their own customized rulebook for game play.

Hockey Canada has no regulatory authority over unsanctioned leagues, and cannot hear appeals, insure players or ensure a consistently high standard of game play in unsanctioned leagues. It is for this reason that Hockey Canada does not condone, endorse or create affiliations with unsanctioned leagues.

If you choose to register your child in a non-member league, your child will immediately lose all Hockey Canada membership privileges for the remainder of the hockey season.

As the governing body of amateur hockey in Canada, Hockey Canada is committed to offering the best development programs in the world. Hockey Canada and Hockey Canada Members have invested significant resources in the development of officials, coaches, administrators and players countrywide. Hockey Canada has a committed strategy toward a cohesive long-term athlete development (LTAD) model and they feel their programs are second to none in sport.

Despite, or perhaps because of, Hockey Canada’s success in delivering quality programming throughout Canada, other organizations operating outside their structure form leagues from time to time that offer various levels of amateur hockey programming. These “non-sanctioned” organizations do not support the development of Hockey Canada or Member programs. Further, they operate with limited, or no consideration to the impact of their programs on minor, junior, senior, adult recreational hockey, officiating development, female hockey, coaching development or administrator development in Canada. These Non-Sanctioned Leagues choose instead, in many instances, to utilize resources already developed by Hockey Canada and its Members.

Because these Non-Sanctioned Leagues operate outside of Hockey Canada’s structure, Hockey Canada has no way of ensuring that those Leagues implement many of the fundamental safeguards inherent in Hockey Canada programs and the LTAD model. Those Leagues may not be using the same Playing Rules that Hockey Canada has implemented to protect player safety and may not provide adequate insurance for their participants. Hockey Canada also cannot ensure that the quality of play in these Leagues matches the level advertised.

Hockey Canada respects the right of every individual at the beginning of each hockey season to choose between participating in a Hockey Canada sanctioned league or a Non-Sanctioned League. Every individual who makes the choice to Participate in a Non-Sanctioned League, however, must understand the ramifications of that choice.


Q: What is the definition of “Non-Sanctioned League”?

Any amateur hockey league that operates in Canada outside the auspices/sanctioning of Hockey Canada, or in any other country outside the auspices/sanctioning of the Member National Association of the International Ice Hockey Federation in that country. This currently does not include summer hockey leagues/teams, adult recreational hockey leagues/teams, high school hockey, college or university hockey, and/or hockey schools.


Q: What is the definition of Participate?

“Participate” means to engage, knowingly or otherwise, in an activity within a Non-Sanctioned League that could only be engaged in within Hockey Canada if the participant was properly registered on the Hockey Canada Registry. Such activity includes, without limitation, playing, managing, coaching, officiating, or acting as a trainer.


Q: What is the definition of Participation?

“Participation” in a Non-Sanctioned League will be considered to have occurred if the individual takes part in one game (including an exhibition, tournament, league or playoff game) after the Cut-Off Date.


Q: What are the consequences of supporting or participating in a Non-Sanctioned League?

Player:  Any Player who chooses to participate in a Non-Sanctioned League after September 30th of the hockey season in question will be ineligible to register or affiliate to a Hockey Canada Team.

Coaches, Assistant Coaches, Development Coaches and Trainers (Bench Staff):  Any Bench Staff that chooses to participate in a Non-Sanctioned League after September 30th of the hockey season in question will not be permitted to be a member of the Bench Staff of any Hockey Canada team for the remainder of that season.

Non-Player Participants (Officials): On-Ice Officials, including referees and linesmen who choose to officiate Non-Sanctioned League games may not be granted assignments for Hockey Canada Sanctioned programming for the remainder of that season. 


Q: What if a child or sibling plays in a Non-Sanctioned League?

This policy only applies to the individuals who are participants in Non-Sanctioned Leagues.  A parent or sibling should not be prevented from participating in Hockey Canada programming solely because their child, brother or sister is playing in a Non-Sanctioned League.


Q: What happens if the Non-Sanctioned Team Folds or the participant is released suspended or fired from that League?

The participant would be ineligible to participate, register, or affiliate with a Hockey Canada Team for the remainder of the hockey season in question.


Q: What does BC Hockey say about Non-Sanctioned Leagues?

  • It is the responsibility of member associations such as CMHA to report all players and / or coaches who participate with Non-Sanctioned Teams in contravention of the policy.  
  • A team attempting to register a participant in contravention may face discipline.  
  • It is incumbent upon Minor Hockey Associations to ensure theirvolunteers and paid personnel are not associated with Non-Sanctioned groups.


Hockey Canada Bulletin No: A1915 and BC Hockey Issue#: 2019-027 have been referenced in this document and are attached for full details.

Bulletins - BC Hockey

A1915 2019.09.30 NSL Policy


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