Canadian Players Now Starting To Pay

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Canadian Players Now Starting To Pay September 11, 2012 8:52 AM

It was only a matter of time before our brother to the north began feeling the economic pinch that has been felt here in the United States for the last few years when it comes to paying for hockey.

For decades, Canadian players skilled enough to make the junior circuit have not had to worry about expenses for the most part. Heck, some even get some big dollars just to play junior b, but thats for another story.

Over the past few seasons, many teams have been implementing some type of player fee, even at the "Tier II" level. TJHN was made aware of one such team charging at least $4,000.00 this season in Ontario. Some teams are charging as little as $300.00 per player, but many are charging an average of $1,500.00 per player.

During the Ontario Hockey Association’s June Annual General Meeting in Windsor, the board implemented a new $300.oo minimum participation fee for its players.

In an interview with the St. Catherines Standard OHA junior convenor John Kastner said “The current OHA financial model just doesn’t work anymore,”“In the past, teams have paid fees. One of the problems that’s happened is the OHA has fewer teams. In junior A (Ontario Junior Hockey League) alone, there are 13 less teams this year.”

“It became hard to budget,” Kastner said. “We started to look at what other organizations do across Canada. We’re the only one not charging players. We’re the oldest hockey dominion in Canada and we’re the ones under financial stress.”

A team was put together to figure out a solution. Under the new model, the OHA will raise close to $1.5 million through combined player and team membership fees in 2012-13.

Kastner said one option to relieve the financial stress was to raise team fees, something many balked at. As a result, team fees will drop over the next four years.

Although the fee issue has not become one that effects all of Tier II hockey in Canada, it does appear that the trend will continue. Several sources in the western provinces have said that they are also looking at player fees being added.

Hockey Canada has no rule in place that forbids the collection of player fees at the Tier II level. The North American Hockey League, the only Tier II league in the United States, has strict rules against the collection of player fee’s. This could be why when attending this summers NAHL try out camps, numbers of Canadian players attending did seem on the rise.

For years, many American born players have made the trek to Canada in order to have the ability to play Tier II hockey. With the addition of these player fee’s, many are expected to gradually make their way south once again.

With costs on the rise, players, parents, teams an leagues must find a way to adapt.

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