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Rating The Junior Hockey Leagues – Publishers Opinion

Now that we have concluded our Rating The Junior Hockey Leagues series of articles based upon development and promotion to higher levels of play, I wanted to chime in with some comments of my own.

We received a lot of feedback on the series.  Some leagues and teams voiced their displeasure on their rating, while other leagues and member teams were very supportive of the ratings.  No one expected everyone to agree or be happy with the series and it was not intended for leagues or teams to use as promotional material, but was intended to show what the supporting data proved.  Strengths of leagues when it came to promoting players up.

I personally did not agree with all of the ratings.  I felt some were off just a bit, while others may have been dead on.

One thing that has come out of the series is discussion.  One very interesting point in the discussion that was brought up on multiple occasions concerning the Tier II or Junior A rankings was scouting bias.

Coaches and scouts are creatures of habit.  There are certain leagues that people just know better, therefore they are seen in a better light compared to other leagues.

One area of bias, that was completely out of our control, was a nationalistic bias.  American scouts definitely leaned in favor of American leagues, while Canadians leaned in favor of the Canadian leagues.

These same bias’s came through when looking at college scouts and where they are from.  Those bias’s were examined by us internally, and they shed light on why so many Canadian, and American players who play in Canadian leagues actually end up playing NCAA hockey.

With ten Canadian Junior A leagues, and one Tier II league in the NAHL, the number of scouts who have a Canadian nationality far outnumber the number of American scouts.

The higher saturation of scouting in Canada, coupled with the high number of college coaches who are also from Canada makes for Canadian loyalty playing a part in college scouting.  While no scout will pass over a great player based on nationality, some scouts I spoke with after the publication of the series actually agreed that these bias’s do play some part in who they look at and who they recommend.  Many said they did not consciously think about it, but that now being made aware they will think about things a little differently.

Though we said it in every story, this was not a series that rated leagues based upon competitive levels.  TJHN will be doing a new four part series in August based upon competitive levels with the exception that we will only be rating the top five leagues in the Tier II/Junior A, Junior B, and Tier III levels.  The Major Junior / USHL will include all four leagues.  These competitive level ratings may or may not be similar to those based on player promotions we just completed.

We hope you find all of these articles informative, thought provoking and worthy of discussion.  It will now be an annual summer series.  As always, we thank you for reading and making TJHN a part of your Junior Hockey experience.

Joseph Kolodziej – Publisher

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