The NAHL had another great season kickoff showcase, and the NCDC season is about to begin. Tier II in Canada is already in full swing, and we are all patiently awaiting the USHL and Major Junior leagues to start up. Life at the top is indeed good.
The same cannot be said for a lot of Tier III teams.
If your league season hasn’t started yet, it will likely start in the next few days to a week. In many ways though, the games have already begun off the ice.
At the Tier III level, the signs of who won the recruiting battles over the summer are beginning to show. Some Tier III teams are reporting as many as thirty players rostered, or at least under contract. The average number of a successful Tier III team this year in contracts is twenty-six.
Twenty-six players mean six players in the stands every game. Six players in the stands every game, based on this year’s average tuition of $10,000 per player is a nice little windfall for an organization that worked hard all summer recruiting.
Those are the “Haves”. The “Have Nots”, are a different story all together. And there are a lot of “Have Nots”.
The “Have Nots” are averaging fifteen players under contract per team. In some cases, there are four goalies out of the fifteen contracted players.
If you are one of those players who is now being cut by an NAHL team, or will be cut from the NCDC in the next week or so, you need to be very careful of what Tier III option you accept.
If the team recruiting, you have not already published their roster, you need to ask yourself why? If the team recruiting, you have published their roster and there are low numbers you need to ask why as well.
If the team recruiting you already has thirty players signed, why would you go there to be number thirty-one? Are you going to be one of the boys sitting in the stands? Where do you fit in the roster?
Right now, some Tier III teams are desperate. Some are offering amazing discounts. Again, why? Is it to simply get a roster full? Is it to make more profit? Is it because they really want you as a player?
How Tier III teams recruit is also very telling.
Do they talk bad about the other teams or league that is recruiting you? Negative recruiting is s huge red flag. If a coach, scout or owner talks negatively about his competition, imagine how he talks about or interacts with players and parents behind their backs.
Are the Tier III teams recruiting you willing to put it in writing that if a Tier II team calls you up that they will not only let you go, but they will release you from any financial obligation?
Right now, there are between fifteen and twenty teams in the “Have Not” category. Some teams in this category will definitely not survive, some may not even get off the ground. The pitfalls of not getting the answers to a lot of questions are quite large. Namely, the financial pitfalls, and career pitfalls.
Decision making and information gathering at this time is absolutely critical in avoiding these pitfalls.
If you find yourself on a team with thirty players and you are not getting ice time, don’t worry. You will likely be traded to help another team with low roster numbers. Where you go though, could be much worse than where you already are.
While the experience of being cut at this time of year is disappointing, the experience of making the wrong decision after being cut is more so. Now, is the time for clear thinking, patience and effective information gathering. Being in a rush to get back in the game can be a liability at this point. If they want you today, they will want you on Friday. If not, then it was not the right place for you anyway.
Here we go….
Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser