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Daily Dish: Should Tier III Drafts & Tenders be Dumped? - Junior Hockey News
Published: Monday, 6 Aug 2012
There are a number of Tier III leagues that utilize a draft and/or tender agreements to lock players into teams. I can't stand either system and here is why.
I live in a decent area and am lucky enough to have a number of fresh seafood vendors located only a few miles from our condo. What if these local fishermen decided to form a co-op and tries to tell me that one of them now has the exclusive rights to me as a customer. If I want to buy seafood, it can only be from this one vendor. This is not my favorite fisherman. Is this 1980 Moscow? No, try Tier III junior hockey player drafts.
Sure, players have the option of choosing a completely different league. Our problem with this is the fact that a number of these players get drafted by a team within their own geographical area.
USA Hockey needs to take action to eliminate the drafting of players at the Tier III level. Customers should have to right to patronize the team of their choice. As a parent, I want to talk to the coach of the team that wants me to fork over $6-9,000 to develop my son. I am certainly not interested in a program that constantly is in financial trouble, or continues to hound the parents for money, long after the last payment was made.
Let's go back to the fish market. I decide to buy from a fisherman that initially is friendly, has a well run sales operation, and provides great customer service. A few months later, he starts to get crabby, his scales look to be robbing us, or even worse, I get sick because he carelessly handled the catch. Yes, I bought from the vendor the first time, should I not have the right to change my mind?
Tender agreements need to be replaced with a standard player agreement that is authored by USA Hockey. Enough with the tenders that lock a player into a certain team for life. Situations change, teams change, and even coaches are changed. If a team wants to lock in a player for the season, sign that player to an agreement. That agreement also has to go both ways. If a team signs and collects money from the prospect, the team should be committed to that prospect's development for the entire season. If a team feels that the prospect is marginal, lock the player into week-to-week or month-to-month agreements instead.
There would have to be an exception for prospects still in high school where the minimum agreement must last an entire semester.
I often explain that in Tier I and II junior hockey, the sponsors and fans are the customer. In Tier III, the player is the customer. We don't believe that any entity, other than the IRS, should have the power to dictate where we have to spend our money.
USA Hockey need to force teams to compete and retain players the old fashioned way, by giving players a good reason to want to play, providing a productive developmental experience along with great customer service.
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Stephen Heisler resides in Puerto Penasco with his wife, Maria, and their two children, Sonia and Tomas. Friend him on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/#!/stephen.heisler for more information and pictures from Mexico.
As a President of a Tier III team in Wisconsin, I applaud your article and am vehemently against the Draft system and Tenders. Kids that are paying monies to play do not need to have there choices lessened. Tenders serve no purpose but to have kids locked up to a team in a specific league. A contract should be the only thing given to a player to sign.
Teams use tenders as a defensive strategy and tell kids that the tender only means you can play in a certain league on a certain team but in all other leagues you can do what you want. Now the Junior team knows the kid cant play on another team in there league. Self serving to the Junior Team !!
Very sad that there are tenders !! Drafts in any pay per play league is disgusting and serves no purpose to the player and only to the team.
I wish USA Hockey would abolish tenders and drafts at there summer meetings.
Best article written to date. I am often critical of your stubborn stances but on this one you couldn't be more correct. Why can't USAH see this, it seems so simple. Can someone make an argument for the positives of drafts and tenders at tier 3?
The Tier 2 Tenders and Drafts need some work also. A NAHL team in Texas had a tender and 1st round pick draft pick on the hook for months. They were led to believe all was good. Then they are told in Mid August.....Sorry?
I know both of these kids. They will end up somewhere in the NAHL or EJHL but not until the season is underway.
Teams should be obligated and committed like the players are. Unilateral obligations do nothing for the player.
Here is the thing that I think alot of you are missing... No one forces a player to sign a tender. These players have a choice where they want to play. They choose to sign the tender so they are committing to that team in that league. If things change and they don't want to play there anymore, they can either ask for a trade or find a team in a different league.
As for tier II, I feel like with the amount of teams there are now, people forget it is a privilege to play in the NAHL. A kid should be happy to even be signed or drafted in those leagues. After that, they still need to make the team. It's the same with college and any other sport. Just because you're given a spot to begin with, does not mean if you show up to try outs don't play well enough to make the team, the team should keep you. Spots are earned at every level.
If you want to go the contract route that John stated he loves then you're really hampering a kids options because if you sign a contract with 1 team, you are legally bound to that team for the rest of the year. EVEN if you make a tier I or tier II team and if the team you signed with really wanted to, they could force you to buy your way out of the contract. Most wouldn't, but they could.
The situations with individual teams often changes. Coaches move on, owners move on, but players can't.
I love the Minnesota Junior Hockey League and all that it stands for but I have to feel that "tenders for life" is a complete joke.
If a 16 year-old signs a tender to play for you in Hudson and everything is great that first year. Meanwhile you move up to coach in the NAHL but the player is stuck in Hudson if he wants to continue in the league. Maybe the new coach is his ex-girlfriend's dad and the relationship is not pretty. Too bad kid, Hudson owns you for the remainder of your MnJHL career.
That system pushes prospects to other leagues.
The NAHL is the same boat. You talk about it being a privilege... that's why 30+ NAHL veterans will be suiting up for EJHL teams this season.
NAHL teams should be able to protect 12 players each year and let games begin every off-season. Nobody is getting paid in that league and there is nothing like good old fashioned customer service to make a player want to stay. Who would stay in Bismarck, Minot, Jamestown, or even Kalamazoo?
USA hockey needs to force leagues and teams into doing things the right way while maintaining standards of operations. It is at that time when players will stay because they want to stay.
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