Junior Hockey Expansion Denial And Conflict Of Interest

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Junior Hockey Expansion Denial and Conflict Of Interest

This is a factual account of a Junior Hockey expansion application and the process involved. Persons involved on all sides have not been named in order to maintain a simple fact based report on the process.

In April of 2011, an ownership group began the process of re-activating a dormant franchise in the Southern United States. The league had given its informal approval of the activation, pending the local USA Hockey Affiliate supporting the activation, and later approval from USA Hockey.

In May of 2011, the local USA Hockey Affiliate stated that after a board meeting, they had decided they could not support the activation of this dormant franchise. The decision was said to have been made in order to protect midget hockey programs within the affiliate from loosing its higher quality players. Respectfully, the ownership group did not push the issue.

In June of 2011, it was discovered that although discussed on a conference call, there were no minutes to this alleged board meeting, and that the local USA Hockey District was not even involved in this discussion. It was the District with the largest membership base within the local Affiliate that blocked this re-activation. Strangely enough it was the same group in which the Affiliate President had children playing within a program that could be effected by players moving up. Clearly a conflict of interest was present.

Throughout the remainder of 2011, the ownership group researched the Affiliate. In October of 2011 an arena was found within the affiliate that expressed a desire to house an expansion team. The desire was expressed in writing and lease negotiations ensued.

In November of 2011, the Affiliate President stated he thought that the new location would not present a problem, and that he felt it was a good idea. He also stated he would run it by the board, and that there may be some restrictions requested in the amount of sixteen year old players on the team. The ownership group agreed to restricting sixteen year old players to a maximum of five on the roster.

In December of 2011, the application for expansion was presented to USA Hockey in advance of the winter meeting in Orlando.

At 2:00 AM, on January 13th 2012, the Affiliate President sent an email stating that the local Affilaite had another meeting and that they could not support an expansion team within the affiliate.

At 2:00 AM on the morning before the Junior Council is to vote, the Affiliate President expects the Ownership Group and others to believe that a board meeting just took place?

The group immediately requested minutes from this meeting and an explanation of why support was not found. Once again, their were no minutes.

At the Junior Council meeting, the Affiliate President made an objection for placement of this team. He represented to the Council that a board meeting took place, and that this was an offical position. This has been found to be completely untrue as other board members were contacted and did not participate in any meeting. The reason for the objection was that the local hockey director had concerns about the availability of ice time.

The local hockey director used in this event is also the head coach of the local Midget Travel team. Clearly a conflict of interest. What was more peculiar was that this was the same person who provided written support for this team just one month earlier. Even more suspicious was that this person had also asked to be considered for the new junior team head coach position.

What took place between support and non support?

Discussions between the Affiliate President and the local hockey director took place in which the Affiliate President told the director that he would loose his best players to this new junior program. The director was also told that it would be unlikely based upon the ownership groups list of potential head coaching candidates that the director would get the junior coaching job.

The director, not wanting to potentially loose his better players to a higher level program agreed to then scuttle the idea and make an objection based on a lack of ice time availability. Ice time in which the director controls. The Director stated in a phone conversation that he did not want to displace "open skate" ice users with practice times for the junior team. But when looking at the arena’s scheduled ice time, there is more than enough ice available for this to have been worked on.

The director, while coaching a midget team that is winning games, used his position to block a junior program from entering the area in order to keep his players from advancing to a higher level while being able to live at home. Is this the definition of someone parents would want leading their program at the local level, and more importantly at the Affiliate Level?

Parents of the potential players within the local and regional affiliate do not even know that this application and chain of events took place. One parent contacted by TJHN yesterday morning would certainly like some answers as to why they were not asked for input.

These are the tactics being employed by some Affiliates throughout the United States in order to protect high cost midget programs at the expense of lower cost junior program expansion. Conflicts of interest, financial and developmental are clearly present. Lack of accountability in decision making without proper membership input is clear.

How do problems such as this get solved?

Come back tomorrow for a story on the Appeal of this course of conduct.

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