So this is something new I’m giving a try and let me know what you think on Twitter or Facebook, but I’m going to do an open “mailbag” and briefly (or since I only have one topic today it’s a bit longer) talk about topics that are brought to my attention or people asking for some discussion on.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
Earlier last month I asked the Twitter-verse what they would like to see written about on the website. A reader of ours forwarded an article by another junior hockey site on the idea of merging Junior and Midget hockey together. I won’t get into the article as following it was a little tough, but the overall suggestion was that USA Hockey and Hockey Canada should merge Midget youth hockey with Junior hockey (though it was very short and very vague on what levels, honestly just wasn’t substantial). While the idea and intent aren’t bad, it just won’t work in today's society and landscape.
We do see that in Europe that having a club program works not only in hockey but other sports like soccer. Players join an academy or club and basically stay with them and play in U16, U18 an U20 leagues. They also can be called up to the senior team (which is the pro team for leagues like the KHL, SHL, etc.) as well.
Our free market economy in North America holds this back as evident by so many different junior leagues that either are or are not sanctioned by USA Hockey and Hockey Canada and eventually ends up where we have too many teams/leagues and not enough development due to over saturation. We have people saying one league is superior to the other, and basically clawing their way at high end players. In order to make the idea work, and it does have its benefits, we would need to conform to the European model and get these junior leagues under one roof. Good luck trying to arrange that with the USPHL and NAHL.
I will give the USPHL credit, as some of their programs have divisions already set in place with U15, U16, U18, Elite, Premier and NCDC age groups and tiering. Unfortunately, not all their clubs have those teams or divisions set up as the league is so spread out, so some programs and players benefit while others don’t.
Until the top dogs of hockey in North America can get together and decide they want to do what’s best for the players development (and maybe they might soon since our international friends are developing better players per capita than we are) we won’t see this type of system in place. There’s a lot more to getting it going, but that’s the general gist and it really is about money, a pissing contest and not enough structure or governing to want this to happen.
Feel free to Tweet me anything you'd like to see discussed or answered moving forward!