After years of
complaining about programs operating outside of USA Hockey, Eugene Generals
General Manager Flint Doungchak has found a way to have his cake and eat it
announced a schedule last week that includes a dozen games against United States
Premier Hockey League teams at showcase events. In the same announcement,
Eugene announced plans to play another 20 games against USA Hockey competition. These include dates against youth level midget and college club teams from the area.
Last season the Generals, along
with the short-handed Tri-City Outlaws, Seattle Ravens, and West Sound Warriors
sought the friendly arms of Richard Gallant and the USPHL after the
Northern Pacific Hockey League fell apart under Doungchak leadership.
themselves on the outside looking in again this off-season when the USPHL
elected to leave USA Hockey, giving the Warriors and Ravens a good excuse to
jump to the Western States Hockey League. Doungchak’s smear campaign against the WSHL
a few years back forced a lawsuit that eventually led to the demise of the
NPHL, so there was no way the Generals were going to be getting into the AAU
league with Doungchak still running the show.
It was not too long
ago when the Dallas Ice Jets eventually lost their USA Hockey charter for
allowing their midget team to scrimmage their WSHL junior team. All players on
the ice were insured through AAU, but that fact had little bearing on the Texas
Amateur Hockey Association’s decision to yank the Ice Jets’ charter, shutting
down one of the region’s most successful programs at the time.
I asked TAHA
President Reggie Hall a general question over the weekend in an effort to help
clarify the situation for today’s Dish.
“The issue of games
against non-registered teams is one that has been addressed specifically by USA
Hockey in the Annual Guide,” the TAHA president opened his response. “I have
included the relevant passage for you here.”
Registered USA Hockey
ice hockey teams shall not participate in games against nonregistered teams
without prior written approval of the appropriate registrar. The district risk
manager and district referee-in- chief shall receive a copy of such written
approval. Violation of this rule shall subject the team to suspension by the
appropriate affiliate. - USA HOCKEY
Annual Guide (pages 146-147)
“In general, USAH and
the Affiliates discourage such games because of the confusion that can occur
over insurance coverage, playing rules, discipline; adherence to USAH
guidelines on background checks, SafeSport, and compliance with certifications
of coaches and officials,” Hall continued. “Of course, in some circumstances
USAH may permit games against unregistered teams and the process for such
exemptions are spelled out in the Guide. It doesn't happen often, and should
never happen without agreement from USAH, but it can occur in special
So, let me get this
straight… the only way the Generals can do this is to get USA Hockey to sign
off on the scheme. So how are they going to register with USAH, Adult, Junior,
And why would USA
Hockey allow such a thing in the first place? I’m certain the Rocky Mountain
Hockey League would have allowed Eugene to play within the league as an affiliate;
there was no need to travel all the way to the east coast. In reality, I’m also
certain that the North American 3 Hockey League would have entertained the same
plan to help out a USA Hockey partner.
The easiest solution
of all, simply play at the midget 18u level and call it a day. Obviously there
are other motives, like rumors the USPHL is returning to USA Hockey
a lot sooner than anyone wants to admit. There are other factors to consider, there is a real youth program operating within the home arena and its going to be difficult to sell tickets for what really is youth hockey.
Considering all the USPHL
player poaching and toilet bowl talk aimed at USA Hockey programs, I find it
downright infuriating that allowing the USPHL and Generals to do this is even
Regardless, wrong is
wrong and the precedent is already set. I’m thinking Fred Seal, Paul Taylor and
the other folks with the Dallas Ice Jets will be busy talking to the attorney
today, and they should be.
What’s good for the
goose is good for the gander.
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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