By Joseph Kolodziej, The Junior Hockey News
Junior hockey is a business. Some players and parents do not think about this, but in the end it is a business and no owners or leagues like to have financial losses at the end of the year.
The business is only as good as the product it produces. From player development to wins and losses, to entertainment value to fans, it eventually comes down to dollars and cents.
Unfortunately because it is a business it also comes down to dollars and “sense” when it comes to expansion. Some people have more dollars than sense.
Expansion means franchise fee’s in most cases. So many leagues like to expand when ever possible. Unfortunately expansion does not equate to improvement.
Unbridled expansion is not good for the game, and it is not good for the players. Junior hockey was never meant to be an experience that every player should be able to have. Junior hockey was designed and is meant to be for the few, not the many. The few who will truly develop and move on to the highest levels of play.
Unfortunately though, more and more teams and leagues keep popping up and making claims that they will be “junior hockey” caliber. Well, that is simply not true.
The truth is that there are not enough junior caliber players in the world to fill all of these teams. So what happens in that case is that the player talent pool becomes diluted. Players and parents also begin to over value themselves and have unrealistic expectations. Buying into the NCAA or pro hockey dream when looking at all of these teams is not realistic, and people need to start thinking with their heads and not their hearts.
When players who are cut from Midget AAA or High School teams end up playing junior hockey somewhere, what does that say about the level of play? When players who have never played more than house hockey end up on junior rosters what does that say?
What it says is the player pool is becoming so diluted that nearly every player can find a junior team to play on if they just look hard enough and have enough money. And if you cant find a team your parents can usually just buy one.
In the end aren’t junior team operators supposed to be guardians of the game, and its traditions? Aren’t junior teams and leagues supposed to be about development of the players that have earned the opportunity to play junior hockey?
What does it say when 15 or 20 new “junior” teams pop up in one year? It says its about business and not hockey.
When Midget and High School hockey programs are damaged by the loss of players being sold a dream of NCAA or professional hockey, the development system becomes damaged. When legitimate teams and leagues who regularly develop players for higher levels of play see their rosters reduced because someone else was a better sales person, the development system becomes damaged.
When the money becomes more important than the game and the players, people get hurt. Dreams become disappointments. Money that could have been used to pay for college is wasted chasing a dream that was never a possibility.
Parents and players beware. Players and Parents be realistic. Protect yourselves and the game, don’t be sold some bill of goods this summer when looking for a team. Check the track records of the teams and see just how many players move on. If they don’t have a history of development and player promotion, its not junior hockey, its just a business.
Categories: Junior Hockey