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Confessions Of A Junior Hockey Coach – Where Are You Getting Your Advice?

All the time here we get the questions from players and parents.  All the time they ask for advice on which camp to attend, what coach to listen to, which organization to trust, and a variety of other questions.

We can not answer these questions.  We can not give advice to you because we do not know you, and without all the information, we can not give you good answers.  It is like asking who will win the Stanley Cup without knowing which teams are playing in the finals.

Recently, we were sent links to websites, books, and make statements so-called “experts” when it comes to junior hockey. Many people have the same links referring to the same people. Then they ask if that person an “expert” or whether to buy a book or follow the instructions in books.

This makes me laugh out loud even when it shouldn’t make me laugh at all.  It is actually the saddest thing of all.

In order to make good decisions as a family for your player or players, you must have the most recent and accurate information.  The question really is, where do I get that most recent and accurate information?

A book written five years ago, or even five weeks ago can not provide you with that information.

Junior Hockey changes almost daily.  Team and league dynamics change sometimes by the hour at this time of year.  Players are signing cards and contracts with teams nearly every day.  The team looking for six forwards yesterday may now only be looking for five forwards today.  The team looking for a one goalie yesterday may now be looking for two goalies today.

This makes sense yes?

Often I get asked, “Is this camp just a fundraiser?”.  Every junior try out camp is a fund or money raiser.  Do not kid yourselves.  Teams need money to survive at every level.  If you are looking at a free to play team, these teams need to raise funds to offset costs.  It is no different than any other business.  When a player attends a camp he gets ice time, and gets scouted.  That is what you are paying for, nothing more.

If a player has a good camp the player usually moves on to the next step with a team.  Sometimes a player can have a good camp, but the team already has a player to fill the role that the player would fit into.  Teams do not need four lines of energy forwards.  They build teams for balance and to fit into what they think will be a winning team dynamic.

Camps are just that, camps.  They are opportunity only, and opportunity is not free.  Would you fill your car with gas expecting it be free?

Players can not expect more than an opportunity to make a team, and that opportunity comes with having the most recent and accurate information.  Just because one camp was good for one person does not mean it will be good for another.  Just because you played with someone who made the team last year or this year, does not mean they will like you for the team.  Every player fills a different role.

Seeking advice from books, blogs, friends, and other people is not the way to make decisions.

My father always told me that you get what you pay for.  Pay nothing and you usually get nothing of value.  Pay ten dollars and you usually get ten dollars of value.  There is no “cookie cutter” simple answer for any one player or situation.  There is no such thing as a “free” opportunity.

If you are sitting looking for advice in a chat room, or on a blog, do you really know who you are getting the advice from?  Do they really understand everything they need to know in order to actually help you make a proper decision?  What happens if the information you get is wrong and you miss out on the right opportunity?  What happens if you act on information that may have been accurate five weeks ago, but is no longer accurate?

Do you purchase the cheapest equipment for your serious hockey player or do you purchase the best equipment you can afford that will allow him to compete at the highest level while providing him the most protection?

If you are like most parents, we want our players protected and equipped with the best that we can afford.

If you are like the majority of us in this way, then why would you not take the same approach when preparing for the future?  Why pay $800 for skates when you are willing to pay nothing to get the proper information to make the $800 skates actually help him perform?  Why pay $250 for a stick if the stick isn’t going to be used in the right camp?

Hire an adviser or agent.  If you hire the right person they will not only help you find the right situation with the best opportunity, but they will save you thousands of dollars in wasted camp fee’s and travel expenses.  Hire the right person and they will help you make the right choices based upon the most accurate and up to date information.

An adviser can be the most important piece of safety equipment you can provide to your player.  They can save you money, heart ache from multiple camp cuts or rejections, and a whole lot of time.

Before you hire the person though, ask the important questions.  If you want to play Major Junior, has the adviser ever gotten players on to Major Junior roster?  If you want to play NCAA, has the adviser ever gotten players on to NCAA rosters.


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