With the uncertainty facing all Junior in North America, many players are now looking at their European options.
There are plenty of options available to Americans and Canadians to play Junior in top level leagues. These options will allow for players to have a full and likely uninterrupted season simply because Europe handled the COVID-19 crisis better than North America.
The hockey season in Europe begins next month, in August. Some team camps for off ice training have already begun.
While the United States and Canada look on and hope, most of Europe is at work.
The questions players need to ask themselves begin with;
How important for me is it to have a full and regular season? If it is important to play a complete season, Europe offers the best opportunity for that based on its control of the COVID pandemic.
The United States in most leagues will not have full or un-interrupted seasons. Some leagues will start late and some teams will not start at all. Some seasons will be stopped during the season due to positive COVID tests.
Am I sure my team or league in North America will have a full season without delays, or stops like last season? If you are sure the great, most experts would disagree with you.
Am I confident that other teams will not force stops or delays in my teams schedule because of infections? Remember if your team looks safe, the other teams it plays against had better look just as safe.
Will my team travel to high infection level locations to play? While one State or City may look safe, another you may play road games in may not be.
The United States has 31 of its States having different COVID management protocols in place. Quarantine measures, mandatory mask measures, and building occupancy limitations will keep teams from playing in many instances, especially when teams are traveling to places with different rules in place.
The opportunity in Europe is one where the pandemic has been handled, and freedom of movement, and fan engagement has been restored. Strict measures were enforced quickly and Europeans embraced those measures which allowed them to recover more quickly than North America.
Some might say surely Europe is not a traditional option. It worked for Auston Matthews though and countless other Europeans now playing NCAA and NHL hockey. It can also work for you.
Do not wait until the last minute. As border restrictions remain in place, proper paperwork needs to be processed in order to secure your spot. Twenty six players in the last 30 days have made sure they will have full and un-interrupted seasons. Isn’t it time you did the same?
Those of you who are serious about next season, it begins in less than 4 weeks. We have positions to fill for those who want a serious option for a full season.
Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser