While the would be founding members returned home after the 2013 USA Hockey Winter Meeting, sources were beginning to talk more freely.
The New Jersey Hitmen, South Shore Kings, the Middlesex Islanders and the Boston Junior Bruins made a late application to have the USPHL structured as a “pay to play Tier I League”. The application was dismissed as being out of order for not conforming to the USA Hockey mandated deadlines for applications of new teams and/or leagues. The deadline for such an application is Noveber 15th of the preceeding year in which a new league or team wishes to play.
Beyond the formation of the USPHL, and its late application several serious problems exist for this group.
The first and likely one that will not be overcome is the lable of Tier I.
It was only two years ago that USA Hockey eliminated the A, B, and C lables from junior hockey in the United States. The Tier structure was then adopted and its adoption was based upon the individual financial models established by each league in which a team may operate as a member of that league.
Tier I is completely free to play, Tier II players pay for billeting and other minor incidental expenses, and Tier III players pay tuition to cover the expenses of operating the team. No where in the USA Hockey annual guide does it say that the Tier structure has any relation to the actual level of on ice competition. Naturally though, the better players gravitate toward and play in the Tier I and Tier II leagues.
Along with the Tier structure that determines how the team expenses are paid, a set of guidelines for arena size, and liquid financial capitol that team owners must have helps sort out the Tier structure. These a rules meant to establish separation between leagues and to help eliminate teams from saying they are something that they are not and could never be.
The idea that the USPHL wants to call itself Tier I pay to play will not gain approval. To change the standards of Tier I as described in the USA Hockey Annual Guide would require a rule change proposal that would not pass the junior council.
To suggest that the USPHL would be a Tier I of all pay to play would only open up another can of worms as it would simply be reverting to the old A, B, C model and would defeat the purpose of the Tier system. To approve such an idea would require that other leagues be labled as Tier II and Tier III pay to play leagues. Such an idea only serves to confuse the pay to play market which is the players and parents paying tuition to play hockey.
The fact that the founding members have publicly stated that they are seeking to make this move in order to prevent or slow any USHL expansion to the Eastern United States has upset many influential people within USA Hockey’s Junior Membership. Those members have been telling TJHN that they will not vote for any approval that would further confuse players and parents.
TJHN sources are now also reporting that the teams that would have formed the USPHL could now be in violation of EJHL bylaws and are in jeopardy of loosing their membership within that league. Whats left of the EJHL should be determined shortly as NAHL affiliate documents and other actions are expected wednesday and friday of this week.
Stay tuned as we will update this story as more information becomes available.