The newly proposed Tier III A division of Junior Hockey is potentially the worst proposal made to the Junior Council since changing to the “Tier” system.
This proposal being submitted by Mark Frankenfeld, Commissioner of the NAHL is intended to create a new Tier classification where none is needed.
What is not written into this proposal is the devastating effect it would have on all other existing Tier III franchise’s.
By definition, any team that is not under the “Tier III A” label then becomes less than Tier III A, essentially making them lower than Junior B status.
Don’t believe me? Here is a direct quote from the proposal;
“1. Eligibility Only leagues composed of eight (8) certified member teams, or more, are eligible for certification at the Tier III A level. Individual teams and/or leagues of lesser membership are ineligible for the Tier III A certification.”
The key phrase being “Individual teams and/or leagues of lesser membership are ineligible for the Tier III A certification”. This leaves no room for arguing the intent, or the damage this would have on all other Tier III teams.
Over night, franchise values at the Tier III level would plummet, while franchise values at Tier III A would skyrocket. Making this proposal just another way to sell franchises.
So why try create something new?
The simple answer is because Tier III franchise sales are drying up. Teams are being offered for free now when just twenty four months ago some teams were going for more than $300,000 each. Now, you cant give them away.
Drilling down deeper you find why Tier III teams cant be given away.
First of all, no one seems to remember that players, good players anyway, do not set playing Tier III hockey as a goal. Players who do, should not be playing junior hockey to begin with.
So, when it comes to Tier III, you either have players who aren’t ready for Tier II, or players who have no other options.
Now that players and parents know that Tier III is not what they should aspire to, what do Tier III owners have to “sell”? The answer is, they do not have much to sell unless they are one of the top organizations who regularly move players on to College.
While the proposed “Tier III A” division would likely result in the consolidation of the top Tier III players, there is no guarantee that operators charging less are going to deliver “more” to the paying customer.
Hockey it seems, is the only business in the world where you expect to receive more by paying less the higher levels you go. Every other business requires that you pay for quality.
What if a team has a benevolent owner who can meet these standards proposed but is not close enough geographically? Is there a subsidy program that would allow the team to compete at this new level?
Since the proposal is made by the NAHL Commissioner, we can only assume that the NAHL would be forming a group that could fit into this designation. Does that group include NAHL owners who cant absorb losses any further? Does it include NA3HL teams who can sell things other than their player tuition?
Is there a fee to get into this new classification? Can anyone meeting these standards form a new league using these standards? How many players are allowed on each team paying $4000 each?
How does the NAHL look at all the NA3HL owners after they pay these ridiculous franchise fee’s and say this will be good for the business opportunity they sold you?
If this new designation comes to be, who is in charge? Are their franchise fee’s involved in this? Who determines the viability of each team that can meet ownership standards?
Does USA Hockey police this? Does the Junior Council police this? If the Junior Council polices this, are competing interested parties removed from voting on approvals?
Or, does USA Hockey step up and say enough is enough? The Tier System is messed up enough, and there is more than enough pay to play hockey.
In the end this proposal makes about as much sense as creating a new travel hockey division of AAAA. It is just not needed.
The only thing this proposal does is get right to the heart of what pay to play is based on;
Selling franchises and profiting. Only the profits are going to the people selling the franchises, not the people buying them.
Joseph Kolodziej – Publisher