It's because of the $$$$
Teams can make a lot of money on 16U and 18U as it offers better hockey than HS, so high school hockey is just not good anymore
Sports are now full year endeavors not just hockey. If your running a business, you also need full year participation to make money. So players want it and the business end will demand it. HS hockey just isn't enough.
Prep and split season is ok as a gap filler but elite players still leave early for USHL.
Minnesota is not far behind. Lots of HS's merging teams or closing programs as fewer players stay and immigration changes the demographics in the metro area for many former powerhouse schools. St. Paul has 1/3 the teams and kids playing that they had a couple of decades ago. Rinks closing or being converted to indoor turf fields.
USHL has a tremendous competitive advantage over other junior leagues because of the NCAA ties. It will continue to grow and eventually dominate North American junior hockey. CHL will still be good, especially Ontario but QMJHL is really struggling. More kids/families will want to keep college options open and so USHL will be the only option.
At least when I spend 3 hours flying out to the midwest (instead of driving 6-7 hours) they speak English.
Q is struggling, down from it's peak. USHL is on rise and you can't exclude USNTDP just to make your point because they are in the USHL. I'm not a fan of NTDP but it exists and if it didn't, those players would be in the league somewhere. As I said, USHL's rise is exclusively based upon it's NCAA path. If that didn't exist, it would be far behind CHL.
As for playing college hockey in Canada over USA, we all know your lying your ass off but if not, good luck with that.
Yes, the applicant pool is 300M which includes my grandma and aunt Trudy.
Have fun in Quebec. I'm sure it will be great.
http://www.letsplayhockey.com/online-edition/news/3097-community-based-model-at-core-of-minnesota-hockey-s-mission.html Good article on this topic.
My personal opinion? MN still has a "community first" mentality when it comes to their towns/schools and those who live within them/play for them. All the way down to the Grandma down the street who hasn't had a kid play on the local high school team in over 50 years. She still follows the team and attends games. Here? Not happening. Once the kids are out of high school the parental interest in the team drops and they no longer attend games. MN has generations of family's attending, including family's who don't have players. The town pride is strong. Whereas here in MA you have the majority of folks who think keeping up with the Jones' is more important than community pride, they think being able to say their kid attends a prep school is more important than being a part of their community. They think playing for their local high school team is "beneath" them and not nearly good enough for their little Johnny.