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Daily Dish: More Mouth Than Money? That's a Serious Hockey Problem - Junior Hockey News

Published: Thursday, 10 Dec 2020  
By: Stephen Heisler,

In the old days it was customary to see somebody's house getting blown up on this column. Those days are behind us, for the most part, but once in a while I'll fire up the furnace for an encore performance. This could be one of those days.

Folks, please don't get into junior hockey for the love of money. If the green is the only motivation for an owner's involvement, please take that investment somewhere else.  Also, if there is not enough green in the bank, do us all a favor and just stay away.

The financial strain that COVID has put on continuing hockey operations has been tremendous. It has also separated the under-financed operations from the stronger ones. I understand the need for some programs that were supposed to be free-to-play having to charge players now. But let's get a good look at which leagues have refused to do that and which ones have. 

Maybe those elevated North American Hockey League franchise values were a good idea after all. They have certainly kept some of the pretenders out of the league. The Mark Hammersmith types are no longer part of the NAHL equation.

I said into junior hockey and could just say into hockey. There are a lot of dreamers out there. Some have illusions of owning teams in leagues their wallets simply can't support. If a prospective team owner does not have ten times the operating budget in liquid assets he (or she) should not be seriously considered as a candidate to own and operate a team. That rule should apply from the National Hockey League all the way down to the pay-to-play leagues.

Another red flag should be hearing that an owner is trying to get financing to purchase a team. Greg Jamison never had the assets required to purchase the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes a few years back. He was openly trying to put together an investment group to finalize the purchase. The bottom line in that everyone involved in the deal knew that Jamison would have to put together a group to make good on the offer. What I never understood, why would the league, City of Glendale, and everybody else take such an offer seriously in the first place?

It's that same pie in the sky financing plan that exists all the way down from the NHL to junior hockey. Believe it or not, there are way too many junior operators living the hockey dream hand to mouth. Heck, maybe we should just say from the parents hand to their mouth. Amazing.

Like the city of Glendale and the Coyotes, we recently spent fifteen months dancing with one particular owner about their desire to have the team on Fifteen months of "we are going to do it" and "the check is in the mail." Last week we finally got the definite response from the team. "It's simply not in the budget for us." I could not help but laugh. Now I know how those Coyote fans (and players) were feeling.

Hey, we get it. COVID has negatively impacted all of us. But if that was the case, why in the heck did you waste my time? Or better yet, why did I let them?

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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