,USA Hockey Vice President and Junior Council Chairperson
Dear Junior Hockey players, parents, coaches and team representatives, and potential future Junior Hockey players,
I am writing to provide you with some information regarding junior hockey opportunities within the Great Lakes region of the United States. As a parent myself and someone that had the good fortune to play in the National Hockey League, helping both players and parents make good decisions when it comes to the hockey landscape is important to me and a reason why I ran for and was fortunately elected to head USA Hockey's Junior Council. This is a volunteer position and I am proud to give back to a game that has given me so much.
First, USA Hockey is pleased that eight teams formerly with the Great Lakes Junior Hockey League have come to an agreement with the Minnesota Junior Hockey League (MnJHL) to join the MnJHL and beginning in the 2012-13 season will operate as the Great Lakes Division of the MnJHL. This decision was made in response to the leadership of the GLJHL deciding it would not sanction with USA Hockey for the 2012-13 season. A great majority of the league owners felt it was in the best interest of their teams, and in the best interest of hockey in the Great Lakes region and hockey players in this region, to remain within the USA Hockey family.
The eight teams joining the MnJHL are the Central Wisconsin Saints, Wisconsin Rampage, Chicago Bulldogs, Ft. Wayne Federals, Kalkaska Roughnecks, St. Louis Frontenacs, Tri City Ice Hawks, and the Wooster Oilers. The MnJHL will now have 16 teams and will cover the western Great Lakes region, with teams in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. This move will not only strengthen the MnJHL, but will make for a better and more competitive environment for the young men playing junior hockey in this area. The MnJHL has been in operation for nearly 40 years and has been known to promote players to higher levels of junior hockey and to college hockey.
USA Hockey's leadership in Junior hockey is well known. You may be aware that USA Hockey sanctioned junior leagues must comply with standards for their level of play, including requirements for league governance and organization, financial stability, coaching certification, officiating quality, player safety, team facilities, billeting requirements, limitations on tuition and fees that can be charged, as well as rules on player transfers and player contracts. These standards ensure quality team operators so both the player and parents can have peace of mind.
In order to try and compete with USA Hockey, Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) hockey programs, including the GLJHL leadership, make many assertions without any valid support for those claims. I urge you to be careful in giving credence to those types of claims.
USA Hockey is completely invested in all facets of the game, for boys and girls, men and women, able bodied and disabled. You are probably aware that only USA Hockey sanctions the only Tier I Junior hockey league in the United States -- the United States Hockey League (USHL). USA Hockey also sanctions the only Tier II Junior hockey league in the United States - the North American Hockey League (NAHL). USA Hockey also sanctions ten Tier III Junior hockey leagues, including the MnJHL. All total, USA Hockey sanctions the programs that provide opportunities for over 500,000 hockey players at the youth through adult levels.
USA Hockey is all hockey, all the time and works on nothing but making sure our sport is the best it can be at both the youth, junior and adult levels. You can be sure that the NHL didn't make the decision to invest in USA Hockey and its programs if it thought USA Hockey was all about money and medals.
On the youth hockey side, the American Development Model is one of the best things USA Hockey has ever done. If you're not familiar with the program, visit ADMKids.com. I know some have questions or uncertainty about cross-ice hockey for Mites and under, but it is the right thing for kids at that age. A national acceptance of the ADM will not only help hockey in our country be the very best it can be, but rovide the best possible environment and development for our players.
In the end, USA Hockey is the gold standard among youth sports organizations in our country. It is emulated by others not only in this country, but across the world. And playing in a USA Hockey program is no doubt what is best for you or your son or daughter at any level.
Thanks again for letting me share some thoughts with you.