We hear about it all the time; a very young but talented athlete making a commitment to one college or another three years before graduating from high school. Should junior hockey allow teams and coaches to get early commitments from pee-wee and bantam players?
It's an interesting question because the concept can be very intriguing.
College coaches have long range depth charts that are filled with prospective players and early commits; I am having a difficult time identifying the negatives from such a system for junior hockey. Doing so would certainly change the dynamic of recruiting, especially if those commitments were binding and went both ways (for both the player and team).
"I don't see it so much of a regulatory issue, as a players' rights issue. I don't see a problem with the trend of earlier scouting, and recruiting. I think the issue lies within a team's ability to obtain a player's rights, at the lower levels of junior hockey," a anonymous junior coach once said. "At the Major Junior and Tier-l levels, I think the rules in place are justified. It would be tempting for lower level junior leagues to implement the same rules, so as to imitate the NHL Draft, etc. However, it is a different brand, a different game, with much different circumstances in terms of comparing team-to-team and organization-to-organization."
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 Victorious Hockey Company. Stephen, his wife Deysi, and four children reside in Orlando, Florida.
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