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Daily Dish: NAHL's Bad Apple - Junior Hockey News

Published: Tuesday, 18 Oct 2011
By: Stephen Heisler  |  Web site: JuniorHockey.com

The North American Hockey League has a responsibility to the standards set by USA Hockey's Junior Council for the Tier II level of play and should be a accountable to maintain those standards. Accountable to whom?


The NAHL is an independent private company governed by each team owner within the league. What does that mean? Each owner has an equal position as a member of the Board of Governors, where each team has one vote at the table and the majority rules.


Mark Frankenfeld, the current commissioner, and league attorney Bob Riley, do not vote and are present only for guidance and legal counsel.


The NAHL, and the teams within the league are private businesses, so they are not required to disclose any information to the public or media. The problem arises, for you the consumer, is when something is not right and it affects people outside the ownership group.


That's why we have government agencies to oversee private companies to protect the consumer from flawed or potentially harmful products to recall them if need be. How does this apply to the NAHL? Should they have some over site in place which is non-bias to make sure the all aspects of the business are operated correctly? As the national governing body of the game, this duty should fall into the hands of USA Hockey. USA Hockey turns around and passes the buck back to the league and generally the issue simply fades away.


There is also the GREED factor! Each year since 2008, Mark Frankenfeld has been going out and growing the league, by bringing new teams into the NAHL. This is good for the other teams in the league, Frankenfeld, and the players.


Each team entering the league has a franchise fee, and for the sake of argument, let's assume that amount to be $300,000 per team. The money from the new team is dispersed evenly to the all the existing teams, Frankenfeld's bonus, and money left in the league account for expenditures. For the hockey players a new team means twenty-five more spots that need to be filled.


Junior Hockey is a business, but at what cost do we let an individual or team soil the reputation of the entire league. Since 2008 the NAHL has allowed Mark Frankenfeld to bring in new teams that have damaged the overall reputation of the league, not to mention the continued saga of significant scandals.


The BOG has continued to overlook obvious violations of Tier II standards. Instead of taking a proactive role to maintain the standards as issues arise, the league simply tries to cover them up.


It is amazing that the BOG would agree to a $25,000 fine for talking to us. JuniorHockey.com is a news source and sometimes that news is good and sometimes it is bad. Our job is to deliver it regardless of the implications. One NAHL owner claims that he is tired of discovering league issues on JuniorHockey.com before Frankenfeld bothers to tell the owners.   


The league needs to step in and take over the Chicago Hitmen.


         The players having to pay for blades (or sticks) and warm- ups reflects upon the entire league.  When the situation was brought to our attention, the team decided to call it a deposit. Why is there not a deposit receipt and why were players never told the payment was a refundable deposit?


         Why is Hammersmith on the Bench?


         Are there any additional owners of the team?


         Are there any outstanding loans from player's parents?   


         Has the team completed all the required background checks for all housing parents, employees, and team volunteers?



Why is the BOG not holding Mark Frankenfeld accountable for the situation in Chicago? He is an employee that is supposed to be protecting the league's brand.


There is a very simple solution to the biggest problem in the league, simply do what's right to begin with.


Most of the NAHL owners are great guys and run top notch organizations. When are you guys going to stand up and do something?  Frankenfeld has shown himself to be incapable of rectifying the situation and obviously does not have the authority to get it done, but you do. Even issues not in your constitution or bylaws have to be dealt with, you know the difference between right and wrong, so hold everyone accountable to a higher standard.


Operating with a higher degree of transparency would eliminate 99% of the troublesome issues within the league. Covering up issues, threats of $25,000 fines, and having the attorney send letters, is just going to give an issue wings.


The NAHL is a good league and we would love to see more article submissions from the teams. Why are the team owners not embracing transparency? That could be the difference between success and failure of the league.

What do you think?


posted Oct. 18th, 2011 - 8:44am
Mike Smithe says:
Your right on Stephen, When the last scandal happen with Albert Lea, Mark Frankenfeld said to me" I asked Barry about stuff over and over and he always had an answer and I have to give the benefit of doubt to the owners." I can understand that to a point, but somewhere along the way when you hear things over and over again it is time to take action. The other owners of teams in the league should demand an investigation of all the business practices of the Chicago Hitmen.

Recently a player was fed up with everything in Chicago and left the team last week. This player is still on Chicago roster and for what? So they can hold his rights, so he doesn't go to another NAHL team. Big Deal, if he doesn't want to play for you release him. This kind of stuff in the NAHL is ridiculous and Mark allows it to happen. If a player leaves your team on his own accord or you send him home you should go on the computer and release him, it takes you less than 30 seconds. No, we want to see if we can shop him around try to get something for him, or make sure he doesn't go to another team. If you want to shop him around do that before you send him home. You owners should have some decency and do the right thing. Many of these issues directly affect a player, which is a PERSON a Human Being. Many of you owners and coaches need to take a hard look in the mirror and make sure you see the person you really want to be, we already know Mark doesn't care.

posted Oct. 18th, 2011 - 10:45am
Jeff Price says:
Mike, you touch on a great subject here. But keep in mind there is a fine line on player/owner. Most cases are black & white, but some would need some arbitration.

posted Oct. 18th, 2011 - 11:54am
Lori Orchow says:
I just don't get why these owners/coaches don't remember that there are kids' lives they're playing with. Who cares about pennies you can squeak out of a trade...these are still young men who are being treated like they're at a cattle auction. They aren't paid athletes, and if a coach can cut a kid, a kid should be able to say the team isn't a good fit for him either and leave.

posted Oct. 18th, 2011 - 1:13pm
Jeff Price says:
Would most of you think players & parents should be able to play where they want and abolish the drafts?

posted Oct. 18th, 2011 - 1:53pm
Mike Smithe says:
Jeff, I would agree in the Tier 3. If you are paying to play you should be able to choose the team you wish to play for.

In tier 2, I think they should go to an all draft program and get rid of the player tenders. They should do it like the USHL draft only and this would make the teams more equal across the board.

However, If a player wants to leave a team or team sends a player home they should be released that same day. this goes for any level and in any league for juniors.

posted Oct. 18th, 2011 - 3:30pm
Jeff Price says:
Mike, I agree with you on the Tier 3 issue as I've been saying for over 10 years the only leagues in the USA that should have drafts would be the USHL & NAHL. But after watching the NAHL teams reduce their budgets & staff to mirror the payrolls of the Tier 3 programs, I'm not sure the NAHL should have one either. If you can't scout and most of the NAHL teams don't have even part time scouts, how can you have a draft and really know what you’re getting. Champagne taste on beer prices!! JMO

posted Oct. 19th, 2011 - 10:22am
Harry Urschel says:
I disagree to a certain extent. This board has been hollering for free choice for plsyers/parents for quite a while. Arguing that junior hockey should be more business-like. That then leads us to contracts. If a contract is signed that is a commitment from both parties. A player makes the team at camp and similar- in ability players are cut. If a player walks away, those players at camp are no longer available. They're gone. Especially at tier III. Our league has no draft. We do have tenders but when a player is unhappy the situation is dealt with quickly as the tender is only viable within the league. However, in business, signing a contract has consequences.

posted Oct. 26th, 2011 - 11:52am
Aaron Smith says:
I do think I know the player whom you are talking about. Cody Damon who then played with the Rochester EJ team and was just released by the Michigan Wariors. I do agree that coaches should have more respect for the player than they now do.

posted Nov. 11th, 2011 - 7:07pm
Sally Tellib says:
A player was back home in Europe and remained on the Hitmen roster for 2 weeks! Players are asking to be released because they are being hazed by their own team members, they are being told to go out and break other players jaws!! The kids who are comfortable with their situation go to practice and get out of there as quick as possible so they do not because Hammersmith pets and have to do ridiculous errands for the owners.

Oh by the way - does the league know that the Hammersmiths are paying for the coach's apartment, that he has players living with him, that he hasnt't confirmed a practice schedule for Thanksgiving so the kids don't know if they can go see family or not?

What is wrong with this team that they can't plan ahead and show these kids what the league can really be about???

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* Article disclaimer: This site may contain advice, opinions and statements from various authors and information providers. Views expressed in this article reflect the personal opinion of the author, Stephen Heisler, and not necessarily the views of JuniorHockey.com. JuniorHockey.com does not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any advice, opinion, statement or other info provided in the article, or from any other member of this site.

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