How important are labels? Brands? Personally I like Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Guess. Some of my friends only by Chevrolet, while others will only drive a Ford truck. My neighbors would never buy anything but a Mercedes, and my sister will only shop at Whole Foods.
Anyone who says labels and brands are not just as important in hockey, has no clue what they are talking about when it comes to how scouts look at where you play.
Labels and brands are so important because of their “perceived value”. It is no different in hockey.
If you think junior scouts don’t place a higher value on a players from AAA over AA or high school, then you don’t understand scouting.
If you think an NCAA scout doesn’t place a higher value on a Tier II player over a Tier III player, then you do not understand scouting at the NCAA level at all.
It is not just about how you perform at the level you are at, it is about the competition you face at that level that establishes the value.
A 20 goal scorer in the NOJHL compared to a 20 goal scorer in the NA3HL will have a higher perceived value because he is playing at the Tier II level and the perceived level of competition is higher.
A goaltender coming from Victory Honda with a .920 save percentage and 2.5 GAA is going to have a higher perceived value over a goaltender coming from the CSDHL with a higher save percentage and lower GAA simply because he is seeing a higher level of competition.
Obviously these are very generalized statements, but they are important. Each of the labels, or brands that you are now deciding upon in your career are important. When you make that choice, that choice influences the value that scouts will put on you.
Recently this topic has come up in some initial consultations with prospective clients. Some were tying to make decisions between certain Tier III opportunities in the US compared to Tier II opportunities in Canada. The message they were receiving from coaches was confusing, and in some cases not very accurate.
As an example, on player 18 years old, coming from a AAA team had a choice to make between Tier III and Tier II in Canada. The Tier III coach wanted him as a first line player, offered lower tuition, and told him he could get him to Tier II the next year.
Meanwhile the coach in Canada wanted the player in a second line role with a low tuition, in a great location, in a Tier II league now.
The player, with his perceived value of Tier II in the US being greater than the value he placed on the opportunity in Canada wanted to take the Tier III opportunity in the US with the promise of Tier II the following year.
At 18 years old, the player had time to develop his career in junior. So his decision was important, but not critical. What he did not know is that more players from Canadian Tier II moved to a specific US Tier II league than came from Tier III.
The value the Tier II league in the US was higher on Tier II in Canada than Tier III in the US.
When looking at decisions, understanding not only what your perceived value is, but what the other sides perceived value is, will help you arrive at a much better decision. Not everything is as simple or as obvious as some people would make it out to be.
It is these types of decisions, that information from your adviser can be critical. Coaches do their jobs selling the program and filling their roster. What is right for them, may not always be the best thing for you.
When you are faced with decisions like this I look forward to talking to you.
Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser