The North American Hockey League has had a strangle hold on the Tier II player market in the United States for years. The lack of competing leagues has allowed it to grow from coast to coast and north to south.
Canada has ten Tier II or Junior A hockey leagues, with roughly 35 million people living in Canada, the CJHL represents a great portion of the nation.
The United States with its 315 million people may at last be getting a second Tier II or Junior A league in 2015. Many are saying that another Tier II league is long over due.
TJHN has been contacted by multiple persons involved in exploration of a new Tier II league. Some of the persons looking at the options are serious, and experienced hockey people. Some of those people with experience in the NAHL.
Key selling points to its development are cost saving measures for owners. One person saying;
“Saddling owners with franchise fee’s that are not actually based on profit models is something we will not do. It makes more sense to have those owners invest those monies into their franchise to create strength long term than for anyone to receive short term profits. Reduced travel costs, league operation costs, and the development of corporate relationships at the league level will help all member teams.”
Another person involved said the following;
“There are too many players who are not getting opportunity at the Tier II level all over the world who can play at that level. There are too many potential owners that do not get involved because costs to get involved have spiraled out of control, and costs to operate are predetermined by the leagues. In business, and hockey is a business, you set your own budget. If you maintain standards and can operate in a more fiscally responsible manner than another league member, then you should be able to. Your operating budget should never be determined by your competition, it does not work that way in any other business.”
When asked if this proposed new league would operate under USA Hockey or AAU, the response was that if one of those bodies wanted the league they would look at it, and if not the league can purchase their own insurance.
“NCAA Hockey is not under USA Hockey or AAU. High School hockey in many places is not under USA Hockey or AAU. Too much is made about what entity you purchase your insurance from. Not enough is made out of just what the teams and league offers to the player. Just because you may work within the structure of one body or another does not mean anything.”
It would be interesting to see what happens should the NAHL face competition for the Tier II players in the United States, Canada and Europe. A well funded group of owners in the right locations could be just what the consumer needs.
TJHN will update this story as more information becomes available.