With so many other options to consider, why does the North American 3 Hockey League continue to utilize a draft and/or tender agreements to lock players into teams? I can't stand either system and here is why.
We live in a decent area and are lucky enough to have a number of grocery options located only a few miles from our home. What if the area Publix stores came up with a plan to evenly distribute customers throughout the region? Imagine getting an email telling me that the store 15 minutes away now has the exclusive rights to me as a customer? If I want to buy Publix groceries, it can only be from this one location. This is not my favorite store, I like the store that's just a few minutes away.
Is this 1980 Moscow? No, try junior hockey player drafts.
Sure, players have the option of choosing a completely different league or even level of play. At this time in the history of our game, can we really afford to be chasing players away?
USA Hockey needs to take action to eliminate the drafting of players at the Tier III level. Customers should have to right to patronize the team of their choice. As a parent, I want to talk to the coach of the team that wants me to fork over $6-9,000 to develop my son. I am certainly not interested in a program that constantly is in financial trouble, or continues to hound the parents for money, long after the last payment was made.
Let's go to the seafood market. I decide to buy from one store that initially is friendly, has a well run sales operation, and provides great customer service. A few months later, the staff starts to get crabby, his scales look to be robbing us, or even worse, I get sick because he carelessly handled the catch. Yes, I bought from the vendor the first time, should I not have the right to change my mind?
Tender agreements need to be replaced with a standard player agreement that is authored by USA Hockey. Enough with the tenders that lock a player into a certain team for a full season. Situations change, teams change, and even coaches are changed. If a team wants to lock in a player for the season, sign that player to an agreement. That agreement also has to go both ways. If a team signs and collects money from the prospect, the team should be committed to that prospect's development for the entire season. If a team feels that the prospect is marginal, lock the player into week-to-week or month-to-month agreements instead.
There would have to be an exception for prospects still in high school where the minimum agreement must last an entire semester.
I often explain that in Tier I and II junior hockey, the sponsors and fans are the customer. In Tier III, the player is the customer. We don't believe that any entity, other than the IRS, should have the power to dictate where we have to spend our money.
USA Hockey need to force teams to compete and retain players the old fashioned way, by giving players a good reason to want to play while providing a productive developmental experience along the way with great customer service.
What do YOU think?