As the landscape of junior hockey continues to
develop across the continent, there appears to be a new effort to confuse the
market. So today we are going to ask a few questions every family should have
answers to before signing on the bottom line.
Let’s go through the list of previously
established free-to-play leagues that offer pre-collegiate opportunities.
States Hockey League: Should be free across the board. No team or billet fees. USHL takes
care of equipment costs as well. Yes, there are Futures and Open Camps, but the
financial impact of these pales in comparison to the team’s overall budget.
Junior Hockey League (Group 1): The British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan,
Manitoba, and Maritimes hockey leagues are free across the board for the most
part. There are a few low league fees
($500CAD? per season) but that’s about it. Some lower end teams may ask for
billet help and provide less equipment.
American Hockey League: Let’s be VERY clear here. There are no team
fees and players are responsible for billet fees. Some equipment is provided. This
includes a limited number of sticks. Yes, the NAHL does have pre-draft and main
camps. But no, these camps are not covering a significant portion of the budgets
that range from $300,000 to well over $1,000,000. Players ARE identified at
Junior Hockey League (Group 2): Most
teams in the remaining leagues of the CJHL (Superior International, Northern
Ontario, Central Canadian, Ontario, Quebec) have some type of league and team
fee. Some teams have billet fees. Equipment costs also vary. The costs are significantly
lower (50-85%) than those in the United States pay-to-play level.
Now with all that said, let’s take a much
closer look at the United States Premier
Hockey League’s new NCDC.
There are questions to be answered.
1- Is there a financial penalty for tendered
players to change their mind and play elsewhere?
2- Are tendered players that don’t make the NCDC
roster released and free to go to the team of their choice?
3- Is there a league fee to play in NCDC?
4- How much is the billet fee?
5- What equipment is provided by the teams?
6- Are all costs associated with team travel
(meals, transportation, lodging?) covered by the teams?
7- Are there any other costs, that families
are responsible for, associated with playing in the NCDC that are not covered
I’m thinking that getting answers to these
questions are not going to be easy. Why is that? Why would a league want to
keep this a secret? That’s a question you are going to want to ask yourself.
Again, I’m very curious to discover just how
free the NCDC is really going to be.
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.
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