USA Hockey 2018 Winter Meeting Battles To Heat Up With 14 Junior Rule Changes Proposed

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With the battle for real estate heating up between all leagues in the United States, the 2018 USA Hockey Winter Meetings will feature fourteen proposed rule changes.

While I usually don’t track these things, I would venture a guess and say this is the largest number of proposals brought forth at the annual meeting.  Someone correct me if I am wrong please.

Beyond the sheer volume of rule changes proposed, the intent and politics behind the proposals is direct.

The proposal I wrote eliminating the ability for 16 and 17 year old players to play Tier III junior hockey did actually make the agenda.  Shocking I know, but lets not expect it to go anywhere even though its what’s best for players.

The other shocking proposal is the creation of yet another Junior Hockey Classification.  Yes.  As if the junior hockey landscape isn’t screwed up enough in the United States, the NAHL has proposed the creation of a classification called “Tier III A”.

No, that was not a joke.  Sadly, it is a real proposal, and sadly some people are actually going to consider it.  The United States does not need any more classifications in Junior Hockey.

While the new Tier III A would have a tuition cap of $4000.00 per player, tuition caps are no guarantee of quality.  If anything a tuition cap of $4000.00 would by definition create unfair financial recruiting advantages and it would devalue all other Tier III franchises who could not meet that standard.

A team in New York paying upward of $400 an hour for ice can not compete with a team in the Mid West paying $200 an hour for ice.  Cost controls are certainly no assurance of quality control.

Paying less does not promise anything close to quality.  In any other business, paying less means you actually get less.

I wonder how all the teams who could not currently meet the “Tier III A” standard of $4000 per year tuition would feel about their teams automatically being considered “Tier III B”?  If you aren’t under the “A” designation, clearly you have to be a lower level.  Over night, the franchise you paid all that money for becomes worthless.

Other interesting items proposed are changes to requirements for Tier II sanctioning.  Clearing the way for the NCDC to make its return to USA Hockey?

Perhaps, but its not a done deal yet.  Another rule change proposal would give all Tier II teams a 75 mile radius of territory protection.  If enacted, this could derail efforts to bring in the NCDC as those teams would have multiple over laps within their own league as well as with NAHL teams.

Multiple proposals have been made to actually solidify standards for Tier III operators in general.  Movements that are long over due.

Significantly, any Tier III player leaving for a non USA Hockey league would not receive any refunds moving forward.  This is expected to pass on the first vote.

Another good rule change proposal is that players in Tier III need to have met all of their financial obligations before they could be added to another USAH team.  This would eliminate a lot of unsubstantiated tampering.

14 rule changes proposed.  Anyone who thinks this isn’t important or wont effect them in some way really hasn’t been paying attention.  Everything from the USHL on down to AAA hockey will be effected by these meetings.

It all starts January 10th, 2018 in Orlando Florida.

Joseph Kolodziej – Publisher