Every year we have to hear about operators that are unable to maintain their end of the bargain at the pay-to-play level of junior hockey. Has the time has come for the leagues to take over the player fee collection and distribution process?
I think so and here is why. The league becomes the entity that ensures that the fee is being collected from the player. If the player chooses the pay by the month option, and misses a payment, it's not the team putting the player on financial suspension, it's the league.
The system would essentially eliminate the temptation to allow certain players to play for free in an effort to gain a competitive advantage.
The distribution of funds to the teams should also be on a per-game basis. I've grown very tired of fly-by-night operators having to collect player fees and deposits all summer in order to stay afloat. If the team owner can't sustain the operation during the off-season, maybe he really should not be involved at the level of play.
This system also eliminates player hoarding while creating a more balanced platform of operation. It also forces team owners to maintain their end of the bargain, something that often appears to be optional at best.
There are alternative revenue sources available to junior hockey clubs. The problem is the extreme dependence on the player fee. Maybe it's time to market the team properly. If that can't be done, raise the player fee to a point that can sustain the operation over the summer.
Some suggest that a league collection of fees system would force many undercapitalized operators out of business. I like the idea of all the bad operators being forced out at once. Less teams means more competition for junior roster spots. That's one very way to raise the system's overall level of play.
Let the unsanctioned yahoos do what they want, maybe a league guaranteed standard of development and operation is just what sanctioned pay-to-play hockey needs to gain the advantage.
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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