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Confessions Of A Junior Hockey Coach – Pressure To Sign?

Ok many of you are now signing up for camps and showcases. Many have asked what to do, where to go, and how it all works? What should we pay?

Can it be so simple, to be so confused? Of course, it may in the United States. It’s a mess, the tryout system.

The first and most important is the mess of Tier III. Players should never sign a contract for Tier III until after the USHL and NAHL drafts in the United States. Any player who before that time makes his signature is a fool.

I have received stories about Tier III teams telling players if they do not sign now, they will not have a spot later.  This is yjr complete dog poop.  If you are good player, a team will want you.  Do not fall to intimidation, or pressure tactics.  A coach that use this posture is not a coach you want o play for anyway.

Do not allow player to feel pressure to attend a Tier III camp.  If a Tier III camp is at same time as USHL or NAHL camp, go to the USHL or NAHL camp.  Play for free is much better than pay to play.  Any organization not support player going to this high level camp is not an organization you want to play for.

The high level camps will be flooded with Tier III teams looking to sign players that do not make team anyway, so why spend money on Tier III tryout until after the high level camps.

Do attend showcase events.  Many showcase events are well scouted.  Several events on the east coast, mid west and one west coast event are very wll scouted.  At these events you get seen by many teams.  This is like. Dozens of individual teams participating in a race against the clock to very smart players.  It is like going to dozens of individual team tryouts by attending one event. very smart for player to do.

Why would Tier III team try to get you to sign early?  It is simple.  If coaches start hearing you are already signed, they become less interested.  Of course Tier III team will say, “Dont worry, if higher level wants you we will let you out of agreement.”  What they do not say is that many will try to force compensation from other team that wants you, and that other teams will not try to get you almost 100% of the time after you sign, even with lower level team.

Parents and players need to wake up.  Stop being afraid.  Coaches that make threats will eventually get caught and be fired.  Coaches can not “black ball” a good player who has not been in trouble off the ice.

The fault is with USA Hockey for creating mess like this.  Why is no structure for tryout system?  Why is Tier III, allowed to compete with NAHL and USHL?  Why is USHL forced to compete with NAHL and Tier III? 

USA Hockey need to put in place a tryout structure so that players are not forced to choose between higher and lower level competing camps.  It is done in Canada already and the system work because it is a system for all to follow.

Finally for US players; do not fall for coaches who recruit based on  “fan base”, “sponsor support” and other items that mean nothing to higher level recruiters.  IT means nothing that a coach wins games, no one but the coach, the owner and fans care about wins.  College recruiters not impressed by wins, they care only about development.

It is the coach that will put in writing that he will let you go to higher level if higher level team calls for you, and do it without trying to force compensation from that team that you should play for.  It is the coach who can say he put players into college every year that do the work for you.  It is the coach who will let you talk to other teams before asking you to sign that you want to play for.

Coach’s must stop lying.  Tier III is not as good as NAHL or USHL.  Not even close.  NAHL and USHL put more players in college.  Size of player do not matter for USHL and NAHL.  Teams must stop saying they put a certain player in college when that player is not playing college hockey, they only student in school. 

It is time for player to become smart.  With expansion of Tier III, you will have many offer.  Do not take the first one.  With expansion of Tier II there is more chance fore the skilled player.  Do not panic, do not rush development.  Rome was not built in a day, but it was destroyed quickly because some wanted too much too fast.

A coach who pressure you is not the coach you want.

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