Every year, after all of the drafts are over, I get hundreds of phone calls and emails asking me the same question.
“Where should I play?”
Every year my answer is the same. I don’t give specific advice to players who are not clients.
Every year I write an article similar to this one, and sometimes, the smart people actually pay attention. So, once again, here is the short and simple truth.
If you are AAA eligible, then play AAA. If you are in Prep school or High School and want to play for your school. Then play for your school.
There is one simple rule. If you are not ready for Tier I or Tier II, then you play in your “age specific” program.
All the parents and players who think they will reinvent the wheel by playing Tier 3 as a 16 year old are delusional. Look at the draft results!
Tier 3 is for your last year or two of junior. That’s it. It is for getting an NCAA D-3 opportunity or ACHA opportunity. It is not, and was never designed to be a training ground for players to move up to higher levels of junior hockey!
Tier 3 hockey is very good in many cases because it is made up of older players who have a lot of experience. It is not a development platform for young players.
Why would anyone think they are going to be the one in a million to change the whole system? Stop believing the recruiting hype.
Play against bigger and older players and you wont get better. You will likely not see a lot of ice time. You will likely sit in the stands a lot. You will get your ass kicked and you will probably be injured at some point.
Development. Real development is never rushed. It is never about trying to get from A to B faster than the next guy. It is about being properly prepared at the right level, in the right way, and when you are ready you will be able to take advantage of opportunity.
You can not go from being a third line AAA U-16 Center to making a Tier I or Tier II team. You can not go from being a 5’7″ defenseman on your U16 team that had 10 points in 60 games to a Tier I or Tier II team. Its time to start developing realistic expectations and getting into real development situations.
The top players in the world all go through a development process. Why anyone thinks that the process should change or be accelerated for them when it has not been for any of those top players is simply crazy.
So, as I point out every year, play where you are meant to play. Dominate that level of play and then you might get a chance at the next level. Don’t think you are going to change the system. Fit into the system and you will find it a lot easier to make it work for you.
Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser