Spain is definitely not what anyone would call a “traditional” hockey market. With limited snow fall in the mountains, Spain is best known for its great year round climate, great food, centuries old culture and traditions.
Spain though also shares a border France, and is only a few hours drive from Switzerland, and Italy. All three countries scouting each other and all three countries actively scouting in Spain through friendly matches and in person viewing.
Many players talk about playing in Europe when their junior and college careers are over. Many are trying to force themselves into leagues they either can not get into, or into hockey markets that are so flooded with players that you can not stand out from the local players or the other import players.
My clients heading to Europe go to places where they become the top players on the team. Not role players and not in markets where there is no scouting from higher levels.
Why would you want to play in the fourth or fifth division? Anything below the countries top development leagues is simply a waste of time and money.
Using Germany as an example you have the DEL, then the DEL2 and Oberliga. Anything below those leagues is considered men’s league or beer league hockey even if you are getting a little money from the club. These are facts and easily confirmed by players not moving up from other leagues.
Sweden is another country with many levels of hockey. You have the SHL, Hockey Allsvenskan, and Hockey Ettan. Hockey Ettan is technically the Swedish 1st league, then you have the Swedish 2nd league which is actually the fourth level down, Swedish third which is the fifth level, and Swedish fourth which is the sixth level. Anything below y Ettan or the top Junior league is considered men’s or beer league.
Finland, France and multiple other countries also have similar systems and multiple layers of leagues. This is not to say that the hockey is terrible in all places, it is only to point out that playing in a countries fourth or fifth league is a dead end in Europe and a waste of time if you are trying to move up.
The key to moving to higher levels of European hockey is to be put in a position where you will dominate as a player and on a team that is actually scouted. Without both of those critical items, you are nearing the end of your journey and not at the beginning.
Spain? Well, the openings we have in Spain are in the top league in the country. Great locations, and in operations where players will have opportunities to move up next season.
Playing is Spain is a gateway to a long term plan for a professional career in Europe. It is for the player who is tired of wasting time trying to get into a league with limits on import players and at the lowest levels that offer no scouting.
All those Spanish classes you took in High School can be put to use while you travel to cities like Barcelona, and Madrid. Visiting France, Italy and Portugal on days off. Exposing yourself to art, history and culture through visits of museums and historical locations.
If playing against KHL, VHL, Magnus League, and veteran players from the other top leagues in Europe doesn’t interest you, then Spain may not be for you.
It is only through playing against top level competition, and getting meaningful minutes on the ice in front of scouts that will allow you to move up.
Ask yourself this question;
Why would I choose to play in the fifth league in one country over the first league in another country? If you cant answer that question then you need to pick the higher level.
If your answer to that question is because it is a hockey crazy country and lots of higher level teams, then why would any scout waste his time scouting the fifth league when he can scout all the better leagues above it?
Spain roster freeze is December 31, so for the next few weeks you have an opportunity to change your direction. Stop doing what everyone else does when they are not experiencing success. Make your own path and dont get lost in the crowd.
For more information on Spain and other immediate placement opportunities, contact me directly;
Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser