It's a strange coincidence that one week after The Globe and Mail published this story about junior hockey and how many players have to choose between hockey and an education, they had to publish a much sadder story on the death of former NHLer Walt Poddubny. It's hard to look at Poddubny's story and not see it as a sad epilogue to the first story. Poddubny was a guy who chose to make hockey his whole life. Which meant that by his mid-30's, when he could no longer play hockey, he had nothing.
The scariest thing about this story is that Poddubny was one of the lucky few who made it through. He made it to the NHL, and not just for a little bit. He had a very nice NHL career and made a pretty decent amount of money. He wasn't one of the hundreds of faceless guys that shuffle around the minors for a decade, maybe getting a cup of coffee in the NHL if they are lucky. He was one the guys that was supposed to be set for life. But when there is nothing else in your life to keep you busy, that money can disappear pretty quickly.
Talking point number #1 for the CHL is that they provide "the fastest route to the NHL". While the veracity of that statement can be debated, I think you also have to look at what those players are choosing to give up in order to gain that slight, perceived advantage. Most hockey careers are done by the age of 30, 40 if a player is really good and really lucky. That leaves a lot of time left on the rest of their life, even for guys like Walt Poddubny, whose time after hockey was far too short.