It's on. We are closing in on the second half of September, and the pressure is on for coaches to fill the remaining holes in the roster. Some bench bosses have lost a lot of sleep trying to scratch and sniff for scraps while the smart guys are already making contacts for next season's recruits.
Operating a junior team is more than a full-time job, just ask anybody that has tried to manage and coach a team while holding down a regular job. It is all but impossible to do, and the players generally suffer in the end. Coaching at this level is equal to two 40 hour a week jobs and more. The on and off ice workouts, travel, and games alone could easily stack up to well over eighty hours a week. Add recruiting, returning calls, and emails to the mix and it's easy to see why general managers and assistants are so valuable to a coach.
Players need to be fully aware of the numbers game. Is that team that all of a sudden is so interested really after the prospect or the wallet? How many guys have already been signed? How many at the same position? Where does the coach see the player fitting into the roster? If it is for a number 20-25 roster spot, kindly decline, it takes hard work, combined with game minutes, to maximize development. Those minutes are crucial to the process.
Prospects need to be smart and listen to what the guy on the other end of the phone is saying and, by all means, get any promises in writing. For pay-to-play teams, be sure to write in a default clause that grants absolute free agency in the event that any promises are broken. Also make sure that the prospect has the opportunity to leave at any time in the event that a higher level team wants to bring the prospect in.
The teams may act like they are in control, but the fact is, prospects are the captain of the crunch.
A good advisor can get these things written into the team's player agreement. He can also make sure the right doors are opened for the prospect to skate through. If you are a player (or parent) that is in need of help, don't hesitate to call me directly.
* 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 JuniorHockey.com. JuniorHockey.com 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.