The differences between the pay to play junior programs of USA Hockey, the United States Premier Hockey League, and AAU's United Hockey Union are becoming few and far between. In reality, the battle between the groups is far off the ice and has more to do about market share and money that it is about hockey.
Let's face it, it's all junior hockey.
If anything, the rival providers of insurance have forced one another into delivering on their promises. They have also created a players' market where just about any skater of age can land a spot on a team if he has the money.
What once was a level of play that was reserved for the highest caliber of player has quickly become a billion dollar industry with 400+ teams competing for the same aged players across two countries.
While the battle between sanctioning bodies looms in the boardrooms, the boys on the ice could not care any less, they just want to play hockey. So why not let them?
The coaches don't care, the fans don't care and we now know that the college coaches don't care either. The only thing keeping the teams from sharing the same ice is politics.
So let's forget them.
Players and parents need to go over the player agreements and make sure the team has to live up to their end of the bargain. In a market where movement is now very easy, some leagues are trying to install barriers to that movement. Penalty fees that go all the way up to $10,000 are being written into some of these agreement.
This is another reason why a good advisor can be so valuable. We were able alter a USPHL agreement last year where we changed the exit fee from $5,000 to $5.
With so many leagues and opportunities out there, players have the upper hand and a way to force teams into the art of customer service.
And it's about time.
Author: Stephen Heisler
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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