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Daily Dish: Wallet Raiders - Junior Hockey News
Published: Friday, 21 Sep 2012
There is a battle brewing between a few teams over the services of one particular pay-to-play prospect. One team has the player protected and the other team has been able to attract his attention.
If we were talking about grocery stores, there would not be a problem. The customer has the right to choose between one store or the other. That decision is based on a number of factors. This includes, price, value, and, experience.
Tier III players are all essentially customers. For some programs, the player fee provides 100% of the team's operating budget. Other teams have been able to offset that budget with income from a variety of sources. Because of the wide spectrum of financial situations among the teams, the level of amenities and customer service can also become extremely varied.
There are a limited number of roster spots available for each team. Teams that do things the right way never struggle for players, just like the store that provides excellent customer service. Other teams have issues trying to find players and try to attract them with and association with the teams that do operate the right way. This is either another team in the same league or even an affiliation agreement.
It is time to fix the system. I understand protected lists, drafts, tenders, and the development of younger players. That is great for major juniors, Tier I, and Tier II. Who are we kidding by doing the same thing for Tier III? Sincerely, outside of the EJHL, how many of these kids are going to play in the NHL? Let's take that one step further, how many of these kids are going to be able to get a free ride to college based purely on hockey?
Tier III junior hockey should be left wide open. Like the NCAA, or even the ACHA, teams should be forced into actually recruiting players. Tier III teams will have to actually deliver a decent product, experience, and player exposure.
Something else that has been bothering me is league policies that force teams into a minimum fee. Seriously? If I win the lottery and decide to dump $1.5M a year on a new team in Arizona, I should be able to recruit an entire team of players with proven financial hardships. Rent in Scottsdale is not cheap. Little Johnny and his dad simply do not get along, and now that Johnny is eighteen, he is entirely one his own. Little Johnny does not have the $10,000 needed to play on my team, so I have him prove his financial hardship and move him into the guest house with the other sixteen poor kids on the team. They have to keep up with gardener, shovel the driveway when it snows, and clean up after themselves.
Maybe my team is in Minnesota, Idaho, or even Miami, Mark Frankenfeld is never going to admit us into his little club, so Tier III is my only choice. How many eighteen year-olds do not suffer from a financial hardship?
The junior council and leagues do not make such a huge deal out of this to protect the player's NCAA eligibility; they do it to keep the rich guys from buying a championship team. In reality, the NCAA could not care less.
If a team can cover an entire budget without a player fee, why in the heck would we not let them? Because that would not be fair to the other teams?
I want to see a system where players get the best deal they can, and teams are allowed to do the best that they can for the players. It is true; there is a big difference between the University of Texas and Kansas State. Sure both schools are in the same league, but their programs are on two separate planets. Teams that want to compete with the Longhorns need to step up, improve amenities, and win players based on the reputation of the program.
Tier III Junior hockey should operate the same way.
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Stephen Heisler resides in Puerto Penasco with his wife, Maria, and their two children, Sonia and Tomas. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHeisler for up to minute updates from the world of junior hockey.
Note: A version of this story ran last year
This just in. For the first time ever, Mr. Heisler missed the net.
Tier III serves a purpose and has a place in developmental hockey. These teams and leagues should serve as a cost effective alternative to the astronomically expensive AAA programs. Serious hockey players should be wanting to choose Tier III over youth hockey. In Tier III, players should be challenged to professionalize their hockey learning and development in an environment separated from coddling parents and hometown associations. These players must embrace this greater commitment to learning the game with a renewed focus on improving their academic achievements and becoming model citizens in their new communities. These students should be driven by a hunger to "graduate early" into tier II or Tier I hockey.
Tier III revenue should come from player fees, advertising sales, ticket & broadcast sales, and concession sales. Mr. Heisler suggestion of going wide open on recruiting and fees is almost what exists currently, and we have heard and supported him in his effort to call "the cheaters" to the mat. The rich owners with the mega egos are the ones stacking teams with players who could and should be playing for free at the higher levels. These megalomaniacs are stunting their player's development and undermining their leagues by so outpacing the competition as to diminish "the product" and repulse the fan base. The answer for tier III hockey lies in the concept of strong league. Recruiting is expensive; leagues should pool recruiting efforts and dollars , and share in the harvest in a way that creates parity within the league(read draft). Centralize the collection of tuition. Instead of tuition dollars going to teams from players, have them go from players to the league and from the league to team. This creates a tool for the league to enforce accountability to league standards. And finally, hardship dollars for scholarship should come from league coffers, and USA Hockey and/or AAU should reward leagues that compete in national tournaments or participate in national showcases with additional scholarship dollars. Players that move from Tier III to Tier II or Tier I programs should earn their Tier III league additional scholarship/recruiting dollars. Tier III Teams that "age out" a disproportionate number of players (read fail to advance) should be punished through the league draft, but for a lot of 19 and 20 year old players, tier III hockey is their only and final option before jumping to the universal end point that we all end up in, BEER LEAGUE.
posted Sep. 21st, 2012 - 12:04pm
KJ Lahti says:
Tier 3 hockey should age out one year earlier then Tier 1&2 so young men can have their one year post grad chance to improve their hockey skills and if they can move on to the NAHL or the USHL if they can't then it is time for them to move to NCJAA, ACHA or beer league hockey instead of their parents paying 2 years of "hockey tuition" after high school. I know many people don't like to hear that, but Tier 3 is Junior B hockey and it used to be that your junior b hockey career ended early. I remember when Junior b hockey was 18 years old. You either moved up or you moved on to your career.
There should be in place formalized connections between the Tier 3 league teams and the Tier 2 and 1 teams. With the Tier 1 & 2 teams paying a development fee to the Tier 3 team for each player moved up.
The other thing is that the Tier 3 hockey league teams need to be closer to each other so the cost of travel is less for the teams and less time away from the classroom/work/apprenticeships.
The thing I wish all junior hockey leagues would do is encourage young players to get into becoming a Ref. They could be used to help the youth leagues in the town they play in, get better ref's because of their knowledge of the game, improve their own game by understanding where to be on the ice and earn money to help them pay for their college education.
I know of one player who played junior hockey, got hurt in his first NCAA D3 game and knew his hockey career was over and the MNJHL helped him into their ref programme and he was on the ice as a ref at least 5 days a week, he graduated from college with under $6,000 (he attended a private college in the twin cities and is now doing NCAA D1 & D3 games as a ref.
Out of the thirty odd players we moved to NCAA DIII, the majority had to play 2 years. NAHL and USHL are not interested in 20 year olds. To limit Tier III players to one year would eliminate them from existence. For one thing, the college coaches prefer older more mature players.
The college coaches would prefer 21, better yet 22, no better yet 23, no even better 24, no best of all 25 year old players, etc., etc., if they could. The older the better for the coaches, not the players. Maturity in the broadest sense has little to do with it. Since birthdate does not equate to social or emotional maturity what is left? What of course is met is physical maturity. More specifically, what is met is that a 25 year old man is likely going to crush an 18 year old kid. I'm sure pee wee coaches would prefer 16 year old pee wee's on their teams but hey.... Perhaps all college programs should hire only 50 year old hockey coaches, since all are so concerned about the benefits that age has on maturity.
I am shocked, shocked I say, to hear that the USHL and NAHL are not interested in 20 year old players. I thought maturity was such a virtue and so desirable in the coaches eyes. I guess "maturity" and all its' benefits only kick in when a player moves to the college ranks. Twenty year old players are dropped because, if they have not moved to D1 schools by then (in spite of all that "maturity), they aren't going to. That doesn't help the coach's image, the players maturity aside. And ergo, bye bye 20 year old.
And you know, while I'm up here on the soap box; at the other end of the spectrum, as USHL teams draft 16 year old kids, where is the concern for a players maturity at the other end of the "maturity" scale hmmm?
I agree with James. A 20 year old player is now considered a grandpa out on the ice, and sometimes life gets in the way of why the kids don't have a chance to play Tier II+. Kids are given poor information, they may not be able to move away from home for some reason, etc. Judging a kid at 20 because he hasn't gotten to the USHL simply makes those teams lose out on seasoned, more mature players. I think the opposite of what was suggested here needs to be done for the Tier II and Tier I levels...they should NOT be allowed to take 15/16 year old kids, and instead should really use junior aged players instead of kids who are taken away from their families to train as professional athletes way too young. At least an 18+ kid has finished high school.
I am confused. Doesn't your argument about winning the lottery and supporting players go against your stance against the EJHL?
You stated 'If a team can cover an entire budget without a player fee, why in the heck would we not let them? Because that would not be fair to the other teams?' and 'How many eighteen year-olds do not suffer from a financial hardship?'
These two statements are exactly what the EJ is doing in some respects. If a kid is not paying how do you know it is not a hardship situation. And if it is a hardship situation, isn't wrong to call him out on this site as you did in your EJ article.
You can't argue both sides and be credible, unless you are a politian of course.
I look forward to your response.
The rule is simple...EVERY player on the team has to be treated equally.
If there are 4-6 teams in the EJHL (or other area leagues) that can afford to do this, so be it, by all means, let them play, and preferably against each-other and other teams that are doing the same thing.
What would you guys consider to be the best TIII league? Assuming a player is good, which league would provide the best opportunity for advancement to TII, TI, NCAA etc?
Am not qualified to answer that. Don't know enough about Tier 3 hockey in the U.S. In Canada, it's Major Junior or Junior A.
Without question it is the EJHL... now that league needs to clean up their act or face a catastrophic consequence.
How would you compare the EJ to Canadian leagues like NOJHL/OJHL?
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