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Published: Thursday, 29 Jun 2017  
By: Stephen Heisler,

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.

United 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.

Canadian 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.

North 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 these events.

Canadian 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 above?

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.

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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