The Hockey Canada Reaction To NCDC Is Much Ado About Nothing

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I have gotten several emails concerning Hockey Canada reacting to some players looking to return to Hockey Canada Tier II leagues from the NCDC.

Lets first clear the air of a lot of innuendo floating in cyber space.  Some of the players looking to leave the NCDC are looking to leave because they are not getting the playing time they thought they would receive.  Some are leaving because they got cut from their teams too.  Only a small handful are leaving because they are unhappy.

Hockey Canada, for more than five years has had a policy of forcing players to apply for reinstatement if they play games in a non Hockey Canada sanctioned league after October 1st of the playing season.

The “policy” was actually established for AAA leagues first, and later used against players who sought to leave the GMHL.  It was not designed specifically for players in non Hockey Canada junior leagues.

Up until now, nearly every player applying for reinstatement was given that reinstatement with little discussion.

So, why is Hockey Canada denying some reinstatements now?  Easy answer.  Politics.

In one instance one team wants brings a player back and another team found out and turned them in to Hockey Canada for the policy violation in order to make sure the player couldn’t come back and compete against them.  So, nothing to do with the NCDC and everything to do with one team being jealous of another teams recruiting ability.

Another side of this has American born players being denied reinstatement and Canadian born players having it granted.  Again, nothing to do with the NCDC, but if Hockey Canada denied Canadian players they would have a political mess on their hands.

It is Canada.  They want to support Canadian players.  No different than USA Hockey wants to develop American players.  Its the same in every country, only Hockey Canada has a rule about it.

Lets be clear.  Hockey Canada is concerned with the NCDC and their success in recruiting Canadian players this year.  And they should be.

Lets also be clear that this policy of attempting to dictate what happens in another country, or how players decisions outside of Hockey Canada’s jurisdiction are being handled in Canada are completely illegal in the United States.

There are reasons why USA Hockey does not take this policy with the NCDC or the WSHL for that matter.  It would get USA Hockey slapped with so many lawsuits that they would run out of money trying to defend them.

The idea that anyone can subject someone to rules that they are unaware of, or have not agreed to is called an illegal third party contract.

It is no different than someone purchasing a car and signing a contract saying that their neighbor will make the payments for them if the person signing doesn’t make their payments.  If that neighbor doesn’t agree and doesn’t sign before that contract is made, then the neighbor can not be held responsible.

For instance;

If a player did not renew his Hockey Canada membership, that player is no longer a member and therefore not subject to membership rules.

If a player decides later he wishes to join Hockey Canada, he can not legally be subject to discipline for rule or policy violation that took place when he was not a member and not subject to their jurisdiction.

Unless specific legal language is written into an agreement, and specifically states an agreed too retroactive effect of joining a group, then there is no authority for that group to impose a sanction on activity that took place before membership or during any non membership period of activity.

Hockey Canada, through this policy continues to alienate members.  It continues to show they are not acting in the best interest of the players or the member programs.

Pushing players who are denied reinstatement back to non Hockey Canada leagues is the byproduct of this rule.  If the number is 40% of the players applying getting turned down, then this rule makes those players join other leagues making them stronger.

This rule, or policy, is perhaps one of the absolutely dumbest policies ever made in hockey history.  It is shallow, and not well thought out.  It fails to assist Hockey Canada member teams in its design, and may actually hurt those teams.

Imagine what would happen if Hockey Canada took its protectionist stance further and eliminated all import players entirely.

They will never do it, because they know that over night, one third of nearly all junior programs in Canada would either collapse or leave Hockey Canada.  Junior hockey in Canada in its current state can not survive without American players.

Everyone in hockey knows this, but the politicians in Hockey Canada refuse to admit it and create ways for more teams to use import players to survive and grow.

In business, including the hockey business, when you need to make rules or policy designed to scare and intimidate your customers to keep them from leaving, you are destined to drive them to your competition.

When you are so worried about what the competition is doing instead of making the customer want to stay by offering them an improved product, you are destined to fail.

Hockey Canada is not reacting to the NCDC.  They are reacting to political pressure from within their own members.

I wonder how some people who are trying to blame the NCDC for a Hockey Canada rule are going to feel when the NCDC is back in USA Hockey?

Joseph Kolodziej – Publisher