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Published: Tuesday, 6 Jun 2017  
By: Stephen Heisler,

The fireworks come to Colorado Springs a month early every year when the powers of USA Hockey make their way to town for the Annual Congress.

The Junior Council, led by John Vanbiesbrouck, is likely the smallest group in the last 25 years. This situation has eliminated the need for tier caucuses with really only four leagues remaining.

Now that the United States Premier Hockey League has left the building, the usual fireworks should be little more than backyard sparklers.  There are still a few issues to sort out so let’s take a quick look at the biggies.

Affiliated Players

I think it’s pretty fair to say that there are plenty of players to go around so we can eliminate the need to protect one league another. Everybody knows that the United States Hockey League is the king of the hill, the North American Hockey League is generally considered the next step on that list.

What I’m trying to wrap my head around is the reason to keep United States based Canadian Junior Hockey League teams from having the ability to have Affiliated Players.

The last time I looked, these teams are also in the business of developing prospects while under the direction of USA Hockey. The only reasons anybody on the council would be against this are purely about the fear of competition. Let’s take this one step further; the issue is not the US based teams of the Superior International Junior Hockey League or even the Buffalo Sabres, it’s all about the British Columbia Hockey League’s Wenatchee Wild.

If that’s the case, the issue is also a personal one. I find it hard to comprehend that the powers that make up the junior council, and the USA Hockey Board of Directors, are going to continue to deny great developmental opportunities in an effort to reduce the number of players that get to experience the environment that is junior hockey in Wenatchee.

Enough already.


The 10,000 Pound Elephant NOT in the Room

Yes folks, the USPHL has left the building. They are also leaving a wake of debris on the way out the door.

Aside from an apparent organized effort to absolutely confuse the markets, the group is telling any and every one that the exodus is only temporary and that USA Hockey will be begging for the group to come back under the umbrella.

I don’t think so.

When coaches like Jeff Worlton and Butch Kowalka are able to land jobs in the league, after causing the NAHL and NA3HL so much embarrassment, I think it’s pretty safe to say that the USPHL is going to be on the outside to stay.

There are other indicators as well. When the threat of lawsuits is the only way to force reluctant clubs from even exploring the option of remaining in USA Hockey, it’s pretty safe to assume they are never coming back.

Good riddance. Now watch, I’ll probably get sued for voicing the opinion.

Now only if we can keep the junior council from going into executive session every time we walk into the room, maybe we can keep you all updated on this progress this week. It should be fun!


Stephen Heisler has spent a lifetime in the game of hockey. Stephen is also working as a consultant with individual teams, coaches, and players with the Heisler Hockey Group. When not on the road, Stephen and his family spend most of their time at home in Orlando, Florida.

Author: Stephen Heisler from
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 Victorious Hockey Company. Stephen, his wife Deysi, and four children reside in Orlando, Florida.

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