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Daily Dish: Is it Time to Just Say No to 4th Liners? Junior Hockey News

Published: Tuesday, 16 Jun 2020  
By: Stephen Heisler,

The goals of junior hockey are to promote, develop, and administer the domestic USA Hockey program for junior-aged players, teams and leagues.

The above is the stated purpose of junior hockey in the United States. Let's ask the game's fourth-liners, healthy scratches, and third goalies how much promotion and development they are experiencing.

As we enter into what society is calling a "new normal," maybe now is the time to have the conversation regarding new roster limits. Hockey purest often are heard whining that the the junior level has over expanded, that the leagues are killing the game. I don't agree.

Let's use the number 23 as the current size of each roster. If roster sizes were reduced to 19, there would be enough players to roster additional teams.

There are a number of economic advantages to this concept as well. The bus costs are the same, but equipment, hotel and meal expenses are easily reduced by 20% of more.

Roster deadline dates would have to be adjusted and the restriction of movement between the top two tiers would have to be eliminated. The developmental advantages far exceed the logistical headaches of moving players from team to team.

Educational concerns were understandable when brick and mortar schools was the only option. Now a larger group of players are taking advantage of the virtual school option.  

The same roster size concept should also be applied to the Tier III level as well. I have to believe that parents are going to be more than willing to shell out more money if it means little Johnny is really going to play. This would give team owners additional revenue while lowering operating costs.

Water will always find its own path and junior hockey should do the same thing. We need to stop blowing smoke up these player's backside and let them play.

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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