The American junior hockey system is on the edge of an implosion. USA Hockey has given too much power to the Youth Council. That power is not going to be easy to retract. The Youth Council affiliates are placing unreasonable restrictions and demands on new teams that desire to join area junior hockey leagues.
In a move that was supposed to limit the over saturation of a market, the affiliates have taken it upon themselves to use the new power to limit the parent's choices.
Let's take a really good look at the situation in Alabama. The new Birmingham Bulls are trying to organize a new team for the fantastic facility in Pelham. The Empire Hockey League has agreed to let the team form and participate in their league. The Empire Hockey League is sanctioned by USA Hockey as a Tier III league.
SAHA, the USA Hockey affiliate for the south region, has withheld their support of this new team because of the effect it may have on midget hockey in Alabama. SAHA is willing to sign off on the Bulls approval only if the team agrees to operate under a different set of guidelines that limit the number of midget aged players on the team.
I can certainly understand why SAHA would recommend something like this. New teams all over the country are being told to do the same thing. The Youth Council has decided to collectively attempt to change the face of junior hockey in order to protect their own interests.
If the point of giving the affiliates power to recommend, or not recommend, a new team was to eliminate over saturation, than why are new teams being approved with age restrictions? The fact is that the Youth Council is really only interested in restricting the choices that parents of midget hockey players have.
This is the bottom line. USA Hockey needs to have the strength to either change the age guidelines for all of junior hockey or not. Trying to strong arm new teams to function in leagues with different operating standards is ludicrous.
What do you think?