Earlier in the week
we talked about some of the problems with pay-to-play teams and even the over site from sanctioning bodies. Well today we are going to jump up a level of play and
talk about another issue that is clogging the developmental elevation process.
I think it's ironic
to hear team owners complain about the red-tape and hassle of calling up lower
level prospects during the season then hear the same guys not want to send
another player up to the next level.
This is yet another
situation where junior hockey has allowed the wallets to retard natural
development. Here's an example of how it really should be.
One of the European
advisors sends a young Swiss player to a club with a single team in a lower
level league. The player arrives a week before the start of the season, speaks
minimal English, but proves in practice to obviously be a very skillful player.
During the first
game, the youngster hits the switches and lights the lamp six times while
getting another four points with assists. Everybody in the building can see that
this player does not belong in the league.
The coach knows a
NAHL coach and within days, the young talent is on practice ice with his new team.
The international prospect continues to light the lamp, but at a slower rate,
and amasses 30 points over the next ten games.
Like the coach
before him, the NAHL bench boss has a decent relationship with a USHL coach and
before you know it, the player manages to accumulate in excess of a hundred
USHL points to close the season. Ultimately, the prospect gets picked in the
first round of the NHL draft and lives the American dream.
That's the way it
should work...but it does not because there are tremendous clogs in the system.
Most of those clogs are caused by ego and greed. Coaches and team owners get
too caught up in winning and the money grab to allow a player to bolt up the
developmental ladder. The situation has become so ridicules that there are good
hockey people questioning if the system is functional at all.
How can we fix it?
All of us in junior hockey need to step in and force a player acquisition
system that is functional.
The issue is always
going to be about money. Low level pay-to-play clubs are funded by the players.
When a team losses players that have not paid in full, there a decline in operational
revenues. So I can understand why teams are hesitant. Higher level teams should
be able to bring players up from lower levels at any time (players enrolled at
school are moved at semester breaks only). The higher level team should be able
keep that player for up to five games during the assignments (and cover all
transportation costs). At the time the player is rostered for a sixth game, the
higher level club should negotiate with the lower level club to clear the
player’s balance of the player fee.
There are a number
of owners that would jump off a bridge before agreeing to such a policy. Aside
from the actual player fee, these operators feel the higher level club should
have to pay a developmental premium for these prospects.
Elimination of the
drafts is another way for leagues to force operators into keeping their end of
the bargain. In that scenario, players will flow to the best operators, forcing
the other operators to either step up their game of drop to a lower level of
play. The draft simply pushes players to other options if they are unhappy with
the team that has selected them.
There is a good
reason why we don’t see open drafts from the Canadian leagues, other than age
specific drafts at the major junior levels.
In the end, a change
of ideology would be in the best interest of creating a true developmental
system within the level of play.
* Disclaimer: This site may contain advice, opinions and statements from various authors and information providers. Views expressed in this article reflect the personal opinion of the author, and not necessarily the views of JuniorHockey.com. JuniorHockey.com does not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any advice, opinion, statement or other info provided in the article, or from any other member of this site.