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Hefferan: I'm In! - Junior Hockey News
Published: Tuesday, 22 Jan 2013
For the last 18 months or so, Stephen Heisler has been after me to write for Juniorhockey.com and for a variety of reasons I refrained up until my story from last week. So from time to time, I plan to submit "Op-Ed" pieces for your reading pleasure. I also want to tackle topics that you have on your mind and you can submit them here or to my personal email. (GDHEFF at ME dot COM) No promises in being able to get to them all. And thank you for all great emails and kind words from last week's piece.
So let's get a few things out of the way. These are my opinions based upon a collection of experiences from my 25 years in hockey as a player (not a very good one), a referee (exceptional), coach (no comment) and administrator (well I did it for 20+ years). I've owned Junior teams, served on USA Hockey's Board of Directors for 9 years and President of the AMHL, which I recently retired from in May of 2012 after 20 years. I have a lot of information to share and I am happy to do here.... but it is on my terms and without compensation from Juniorhockey.com.
I don't always agree with Mr. Heisler and have not always agreed with him on how he pursued some stories. In some cases, I found a handful of stories presented too "salaciously" and wasn't necessary. But that said, that's what makes the world go around... and the fact that Stephen and I have mutual respect for where we disagree makes this worth doing for me.
Moreover, I respect and appreciate the site, its potential, and the fact that it's the only website that I know of, dedicated to Junior hockey in North America that is updated daily, with a solid cadre of writers. There is a ton of reading material here.
I am a big fan of quoting, quotes. There's a good reason why certain quotes take on a life of their own. They're either funny or profound. So here's this weeks quote:
"The Americans will always do the right thing... After they've exhausted all the alternatives."
- Winston Churchill
The same can be said for hockey, and for all the perceived turmoil, kids are still lacing up the skates, playing their game, regardless what the adults behind the scenes are doing. While some battles rage within the "elite" ranks of the sport, the overwhelming major of the players are being guiding by great coaches and administrators who haven't forgotten that this is game; a place where kids of all ages play for fun....and yes, to seek out the very best the sport has to offer for top athletes.
In the end, great athletes will almost always rise to the top, no matter how much we try to screw it up. Keep the faith folks.... the NHL is back... and amateur hockey development will eventually get it things back on track as well.
Good Luck Glenn. Good to see you writing in here. By the way, that looks like a picture from when we were both rookie USA Directors.....LOL
Glenn, looking forward to your perspective. I grew up playing hockey in the 70's and 80's when American hockey was pretty poor (unless you were from Boston or Minnesota) until Herb Brooks changed all that in one single tournament. In my opinion, the game has changed so much off the ice, that I barely recognize it. And, this is my biggest problem with the new American hockey model. Yes, the top alway rise but what about the middle and bottom. Shouldn't USA Hockey's focus really be on them? Instead of having one central NDTP, how about several regional teams (ala Canadian hockey)? What about College Hockey Inc. focusing on building a D2 division and helping with D3? The ACHA is also a program that could use a little support by the powers that be. Give more opportunity for more players instead of focusing on 100 kids because in reality there is a lot more than a 100 kids with possible D1 talent.
I have to disagree.
USAH should focus on the NTDP and fee-to-play junior leagues. They should encourage AAU to grow, encourage the formation of new rinks, clubs, leagues, and associations. More means more. They should stay on top of referee and coaching certification and allow the market to dictate the direction of one club or another.
Promotion and relegation to specific tiers should come from on-ice performance and not off-ice power plays.
If coach Bob is able to mold a group of 2004's into a top flight group, that coach should be able to keep those boys together if he wants to.
Stephen, I think we're talking about 2 different issues but I am confused, I thought you did not like pay-to-play leagues, am I wrong?
As a parent with 2 players, I can tell you that hockey is so expensive now that only the rich can play it and for the most part only rich kids are moving on to the higher level of the sport. I grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and all us poor kids played hockey -- it was our way to improve our lot in life by a game that teaches so many important life lessons. I liked the fact that hockey used to be blue collar. Now it is anything but blue collar. Check the NTDP roster and I guarantee you won't see one blue collar kid in the bunch.
I am also a big advocate of college hockey (and life after hockey) so juniors to me should be about getting these kids to graduate from college. If your suggestions, will do that then I am all for it.
But of course you know a lot more about juniors then I ever will.
I do not dis-like pay-to-play leagues, I dislike the fact that USA Hockey stifles the concept of a free-market system. Both at the youth and junior levels of play.
Programs should prosper because of the ability to provide a great developmental experience and not because they purchased the franchise rights for one league and wants to eliminate the ability for another to step into the market.
Store owners maintain customers with great value and customer service, not by eliminating other options.
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