Over the last few weeks we have been going over a number of obvious violations to the criteria for the Tier II & III levels of play. Today's dish will reveal that USA Hockey is fantastic at making policy, but very weak when it comes to enforcement. The problem also extends to the high level youth programs.
New Junior Council boss John Vanbiesbrouck certainly has his hands full with this one.
To date, enforcement has been selective. Once in a while we will hear about an individual getting pinched for a minor violation and the last big suspension was that of current Texas Brahmas coach Jeremy Law after it was discovered that his team, the Tucson Tilt, were allowing a number of players to play-for-free in the Western States Hockey League.
The Eastern Junior Hockey League have been playing that game for years but had the luxury of one of their own in the driver's seat of the Junior Council, Dan Esdale. The many whispers never turned into allegations and the EJHL teams have been able to fly under the radar.
The precedent has been established, the consequences of such actions is a lengthy suspension. This is not going to be easy to do, especially with a number of high profile coaches being the focus of the suspicion. A simple slap on the wrist could give Mr. Law grounds for a lawsuit against USA Hockey, a judgment that could easily go in Law's way.
The North American Hockey League has had their own problems living up to the Tier II criteria. Mark Hammersmith in Chicago and Thom Brigl in Bismarck both made an absolute mockery of the criteria. In the case of Brigl, he has been a longtime member of the NAHL's Executive Board and helped establish the criteria.
The Junior Council needs to clean this mess up now before it turns into a landslide. Criteria enforcement levels the playing field for every program. When that enforcement is selective, the entire purpose of junior hockey has to come into question.
Today, I am the only one talking about this, tomorrow it may be ESPN.
What do you think?