Some people have recently accused me of being too outspoken in my support of the addition of the USPHL’s NCDC division to the realm of Tier II or free to play hockey.
Some have gone so far as to further accuse me via email and message board postings of being “out to get” or “hurt” or “damage” the NAHL. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Not only do I support the NAHL, but I believe that the players who make up the league are some of the best players in the country and in some cases some of the best in the world. I urge you to read that statement with full comprehension though.
It is the players that make the league. The league, regardless of any set of initials placed upon any league does not make the player. The players make the league, and the NAHL is being made into a development powerhouse.
I spent two days watching some great hockey in Plymouth Michigan this week. Speaking with NCAA and NAHL coaches, and meeting with our clients. This event really is the pinnacle event of the early spring for players.
Some would argue the hierarchy of leagues in North America. Some would say that it is the USHL, BCHL, then NAHL. If pressed to name the top three in order. I would simply argue differently and emphatically argue that the NAHL, because of its players, has surpassed the BCHL.
I would feel confident in making that argument because I actually watch all three leagues in person. I don’t rely on the past, or tradition. I rely on what I can see first hand, and the NAHL, due to a changing player recruiting landscape has simply surpassed those great leagues North of the border.
The leagues players are more physical than the Canadian Junior A players, older on average age, and more physically mature. You can not be a “soft” player and thrive in the league. Perimeter players are exposed very quickly.
For those singing the accolades of the United States National Team Development Program, you should note that the NAHL selects U-18 team beat the NTDP on Tuesday. You may also take note that another NAHL All Star team beat the NTDP on Monday.
What this says about hockey in the United States is that the sport is more than healthy. It says that the difference between an NTDP player and another American Tier II high performer is very slim if there is any at all.
As many have said, talk is cheap, unless it gets proven on the ice. I believe the players in the NAHL are now making statements in every game.
Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser