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.