The question is being asked by many junior teams these days is a simple one;
Are some junior hockey teams stashing or hoarding extra players? The answer; It sure looks like it.
No less than seven USA Hockey Tier III Junior Hockey Teams and nearly double that amount of non USA Hockey teams have contacted TJHN within the last two weeks looking for players. Four of the seven USA Hockey sanctioned teams are dangerously close to not being able to compete this season, and nine of the non USA Hockey teams are in the same or worse condition.
How can this happen?
There are multiple opinions as to why this is taking place, when it was a rarely found problem in years past. It looks as though the Tier III market is not only over saturated in some areas of the country, but some Tier III and Tier II teams in the United States and Canada are keeping extra players around that will not end up making their teams when all is said and done.
Yes. There are many Tier III teams that are keeping players beyond their allowed 25 man rosters. Yes. There are many Tier II teams carrying extra players as well. As a note of exception, NAHL teams are not required to be down to their 23 man rosters until October 1st. Some of those NAHL teams are already down to their required 23. Many of the NAHL teams have committed to assisting other USA Hockey sanctioned teams by sending players once they decide on final cuts.
On Friday when USA Hockey issues the required team protected list, every player in the country needs to look and make sure they are on their teams list. If you are not on it, you are a free agent player and should be looking for another team. You can check the list here http://www.usahockey.com/page/show/916758-protected-lists
Non USA Hockey santioned leagues do not put out a protected list, so those players just need to keep hopping things work out.
Some teams carrying these extra players need to look in the mirror. Are you really doing a player any favors by having him sit in the stands when he could play for a team on a regular basis? Isn’t the game supposed to be about developing players at this level? How are you serving the most fundamental purpose of Junior Hockey by letting players sit in the stands and not be on the ice?
How can some teams look in the mirror and know that some of their affiliated league partners are in dire straights and do nothing to help them?
Can business owners be so short-sighted to think that collecting extra player fee’s off of the roster is so important that they are willing to damage the over all franchise value when their league partners struggle to get on the ice or fold? Make no mistake, when a team folds prior to or during a season, every franchise in the league experiences a loss in its franchise value.
Competition is in recruiting and in the games played on the ice. You can not have that competition which makes the game better unless you help your league partners. The health of the game on a nation wide level depends on competition, but the competition must always be held in an honorable manner among team operators.
We hope that as Tier II teams make cuts that they remember to help the Tier III teams that need players. We hope that Tier III teams carrying extra players will see that it is better for the game to send extra players to teams that need them. We hope that players who look at the protected lists and find their names missing on Friday, will call those teams that need players.
Sitting in the stands just because you may like a coach or organization will not help you develop as a player. Practicing and gaining game experience is what will help you develop. Get out of the stands, and on to the ice.
Joseph Kolodziej – Publisher