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Daily Dish: Just Say No to Trades to Free2Play to Pay2Play - Junior Hockey News

Published: Tuesday, 19 Jan 2021  
By: Stephen Heisler,

A player is just not a good fit for the Tier II Bigtown Biscuits and the head coach wants to make sure that getting rid of the player does not come back to haunt the team. The best remedy? Trade him for cash to a Tier III team and restrict the player's ability to return to the league.  What a fantastic opportunity for teams to limit a player's options.  

Why are we allowing trades from Tier II to Tier III teams to continue? I can understand trades between the United States Hockey League and North American Hockey League, but forcing a prospect to a pay-to-play situation while there is still a decent chance he can play in the league (or in Canada) is not right. This practice also has a negative impact on the system's overall level of development because the incoming Tier II player will displace another customer that paid to be there.

USA Hockey has to separate one side from the other. This may have to include two completely different protected player lists and if that's the case, so be it. I don't even like the practice of trading players from one pay-to-play team to another any more than I want my purchasing dollar to be traded from one coffee shop to another. It's my money and I'll buy the coffee that I want to buy.  

If the pay-to-play team can't maintain their end of the player agreement they should simply refund the prospects' money and say goodbye. Prospects should NEVER sign an agreement that allows the coach to move the player from one roster to another. Play me or release (and refund) me.

NAHL owners complain about the recruiting and acquisition costs associated with players and feel that they deserve some type of compensation for that investment. That's fine, make the trade to a team within the free-to-play structure of the United States or Canada. Pay-to-play teams are a completely different situation.  If a trade is not an option, place the player into a new waiver system. If no other teams have an interest in picking the player off of the waiver wire, the original team should retain the option of keeping, or outright releasing, that player.

The bottom line is simple; USA Hockey should have never allowed the practice of selling players to pay-to-play organizations in the first place.  If we are truly about the development of the player, the prospects should have the freedom to exhaust every opportunity to continue playing within the free-to-play structure. If pay-to-play is the only option, the decision in regards to which team should be left totally up to him, the consumer.

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.

* Disclaimer: This site may contain advice, opinions and statements from various authors and information providers. Views expressed in this article reflect the personal opinion of the author, Stephen Heisler, and not necessarily the views of does not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any advice, opinion, statement or other info provided in the article, or from any other member of this site.
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