I have been an Adviser for a long time. I have been a part of many success stories written by players and their families. NHL, NCAA, USHL, Major Junior and just about every other level you can name. Been there done that.
I have seen and heard nearly every sales pitch for hockey “opportunity” that has been known to man kind. It is the most over said, and inaccurately used word in the game today.
The definition of “Opportunity” is; a time or set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.
Its a simple definition. Easy to understand for anyone at virtually any age. The key word in that definition is “possible”. Note that “possible” is not even remotely close to the word “probable”. Probable is a much greater opportunity which essentially means you have to mess things up in order for it not to happen.
The problem with the word “opportunity” when used in hockey is that from one person to the next, it seems to have a different definition. Even when there is only one real definition.
“Opportunity” because of its over use as a word has become the most misunderstood word in hockey today.
Opportunity as used in hockey is no more than chance. Chance is really no more than being lucky to be in the right place at the right time.
Chance is buying an easy pick lottery ticket every day for five years and finally winning on one for a hundred dollars. Thinking you are a winner, and forgetting you wasted thousands on tickets the last five years.
Real “opportunity” is created by work. The player doing the right things, and the adviser being in the know of the right information. Especially when it comes to making decisions on which camps to attend, and which camps to avoid.
Note that I said adviser. Parents and Coaches can not be player advisers. Coaches have too many conflicts of interest and parents have too much emotion involved to see clearly. Yes, I recommend every serious player have a serious adviser.
Not some guy who calls himself an adviser but has never worked on a D-1 commitment, and doesn’t know anything about evaluating player opportunity in an unbiased manner. Not some person who played at a high level but has no history or moving players to a higher level. Definitely not some former player who was a Tier III super hero.
Opportunity in hockey is defined by the coming together of information and timing. Information in the form of knowing actual roster openings, and having players who fit the skill set that those coaches are looking for to fill those roster openings.
If a team has 3 openings on Defense next year, it doesn’t mean there is opportunity. Each one of those roles will be filled by a very specific skill set defenseman. If all three openings are for left handed players, they aren’t going to be looking at right handed players unless there are no other options.
If they already have an undersized puck moving defenseman, in a PP role, they are unlikely going to be looking for a second. These things depend on the coach picking the team. But its very rare that coaches carry more than one player to fill a specific role on the team.
But are coaches going to give you all of this information to help you define your “opportunity”? No. They are not.
They are also in the business of filling camps with paying customers for their owners. This is what pays their salary. It is a business.
Opportunity is not going to a camp as a forward with 150 other forwards to compete for 3 open forward spots. That is buying a lottery ticket. Opportunity is not going from one team camp to another chasing a roster spot. That is simply stupid.
Your adviser should do the work. Define the “opportunity” value and present options to evaluate the value levels of comparable “opportunities”.
Chasing camp “opportunities” is an expensive exercise in wasting time. Buying into league “propaganda” marketing on the value of “opportunity” is an emotional decision making trigger designed to blind you based on the success of less than one percent of people attending events.
Defining the value of your “opportunity” should be a mathematical equation. Roster openings divided by position, multiplied by number of camps, divided by number of players attending camps, multiplied by previous camp success stories along with a host of other multiples and integers.
Opportunity is not free. There is always a cost. How you spend your money on opportunity will define the value of that opportunity. Is spending the average of $6500 in the summer going to camps and continuing to not make a roster a good value for opportunity? No.
Hotel for three days $300 (if its a cheap one). Meals for four days including travel $300. Travel $500 (gas only for driving). Camp fee $400. There is your $1500 per camp cost. And if you are flying, you can add at least another $300 to $500 to that per camp. How many of these “opportunities” are you going to waste time and money chasing?
The average free agent player attends four or five camps per summer chasing the “opportunity”.
These costs do not include time off from work for the parent or player. They do not include costs of not being in the gym to build your body for the coming season. They do not include the costs of poor nutrition while on the road. A three day camp is really a five day camp at a minimum when you compute travel time, and recovery.
Why not begin to define opportunity based upon real information and understanding the real value you bring as a player to a team offering opportunity. This is the real definition of opportunity. The person who will help you understand this real definition is your adviser, and he is the one you should listen to, not the infomercial on someone’s website.
Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser