I get asked
that question about once a month...and it's a good question.
thing we have to look at is the level of play.
the major junior level requires a balancing act between winning enough to keep
the fans (money) happy and the ongoing shuffle of prospects at completely
different stages of development.
The Tier I
clubs of the United States Hockey League also have to keep the money flowing
while being able to get the most out of a fairly balanced roster of talent.
Coaching is a premium necessity at this level of play.
The Tier II
level is all over the board. Some clubs mortgage everything for the all mighty
dollar while others do a great job enhancing their prospects' overall value. There
are teams in the Canadian Junior Hockey League (ten leagues across Canada) that
have been accused of paying players while others are utilizing the pay-to-play
model to stay afloat. It is my opinion that the British Columbia Hockey League and North American Hockey League
offers the best opportunity at this level of play. The divisions are fairly
balanced and only a few teams in each league separate themselves from the others with a far
superior financial model.
Tier III or pay-to-play level that concerns me the most. I often wonder if some
teams are in it purely for the coaching staff's paychecks. That's the
impression I get from many of the programs along the east coast. Some of these operators
consider it a slap in the face when a player wants to move up to a higher level
of play. I was against the idea of old
Eastern Junior Hockey League competition at the Tier II level with the
pay-to-play structure in place. Now I'm not so against it. USA Hockey should
let the east coasters go ahead
and make the jump to the Tier II level of play... as long as they are forced to
send the league champions to a national tournament at the end of the season.
I say let
them make the move up.
of success should be measured by the numbers of players that have moved on to
excel at higher levels of play....well that and the ability to stay afloat while maintaining
the standards of operation.
Author: Stephen Heisler
Stephen Heisler has spent a lifetime in the game of hockey. Stephen is also working with individual teams, coaches, and players as a director with the Heisler Hockey Group. Stephen, his wife Deysi, and four children reside in Orlando, Florida.
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