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Daily Dish: Pay-to-Player Retention Junior Hockey News

Published: Thursday, 5 Nov 2020  
By: Stephen Heisler,

It's kind of funny when we see coaches squirm. I asked a number of pay-to-play coaches about this topic and could not get a single response. It's a tough subject that we are talking about today.

What are some of the major reasons a prospect jumps from one team to another (at the same level) in the off-season? In your experience, do you have more veteran junior players moving to or from the team.

In any system of development it is going to be difficult for any player to accept that the current level of play is the pinnacle of the career. They are always looking for opportunities at the next level and we can't blame them. But why would they jump from team to team at the same level of play?

The Developmental Experience- Teams and coaches talk about development but I have to wonder if most even know what it means. Coaches and players both need to take hard looks at what they are doing to elevate individual prospect skill sets and play. There is work involved in climbing the staircase, junior hockey is not an elevator. If a prospect has not elevated his game in the previous season, there is no use in returning to the same team and coach. Something in that system did not work.

Exposure- This is not going to be popular and I do not care. Teams need to stop being dishonest with players. The internet has the power to shrink the hockey globe yet team operators and coaches often fail in the exposure game on multiple levels. Delivering on the promise of exposure means more than attending a showcase, calling a few colleges and mass emails. Let's get real here. Every coach of every team needs to sit down with each player and go over their marketing package. What are the grades and test scores like? What are the realistic target schools that meet first the vocational and then hockey goals? What is the coach's relationship with those targeted schools? Does the player need to be moved up to a higher level of play to reach those goals? What does the team actually do to market the player to the targeted schools?

Hockey Experience- Coaches often talk a big game at the showcase events in regards to the experience delivered each season. Every player wants to have a good time, which goes without saying. But what is actually being delivered? What is the locker room and fitness training facilities like? How does the team travel? What types of special training is available? Is the team supported by a strong fan base or just a few girlfriends and families? What about housing? Are the billets top-notch or are we talking about hockey houses with sub-standard nutrition and too much beer?

Why do players leave? See above.

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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