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The Death Pool – Canada’s Hockey Development Problem Isn’t Going Away

Happy Monday kids.  Can you feel it?  Spring is in the air.  The season is winding down on the ice, and playoffs are beginning.  This is the time we all look back and reflect on the year, and on career’s.

I got to tell you, I am not one of these guys that gets all emotional about one country or another and their development of players.  It is what it is for me.

But for Canada, the game is so much more than a game.  It has been something they have traditionally dominated for more than a century, and now that dominance is ending.  And its not likely to return.  Yeah, I know I just pissed off your whole country, but the facts support what I just said.

The world has caught Canada when it comes to developing players.  The reason that has happened?

It is the unbelievable pressure put on young players to perform well enough to get an opportunity to play Major Junior Hockey.

That pressure is causing players and parents to believe that if they are not drafted or signed at a young age, that they have no chance of making the NHL.  It is the NHL or nothing for way too many players.

News flash kids, not everyone matures at the same rate, and not everyone should play major junior because of it.  News flash all you Midget and Pee Wee coaches who are adding to the pressure, you are not helping your players.

Multiple people are telling TJHN that more and more players are quitting hockey if they are not drafted in Canada every year.  How messed up is that, when Junior A, or Tier II in Canada is great hockey.

Oh yeah and heres another news flash for ya, those Junior A or Tier II players are going on to play NCAA hockey.  And just incase you are completely ignorant to the facts, 55% of all NHL free agent signings came from NCAA hockey last year!

So moms and dads, there is clearly more than one route to the NHL.

Yeah, yeah, I know the tradition of Canadian kids wanting to play Major Junior.  Guess what though kids, anyone in any business who refuses to adapt to changing business models is doomed to fail.  Hockey is a changing business when it comes to development.

Now I am not saying Major Junior isn’t a good route for players, because for some it is a great route.  Its great hockey.  But it is for the few, not the many.  Just like the USHL here in the states is for the few and not the many.

If fewer players quit, and tried different routes, more players would develop.  Its time to open your eyes and break with tradition.  Whats right for one may not be right for another.

A simple solution……

Instead of limiting the Major Junior drafts to first year Midget or Bantam age players, open up the drafts.  Open them up to players as young as 14 and as old as 19.  Instead of making the club so exclusive, make it more inclusive.  Allow the late bloomers the opportunity to realize their potential while still securing the rights of the younger player who appear to be on the fast track.

If you asked players and parents, this one change would change their perspective.  If you ask your coaches it would get them excited.  Change and adaptation to a changing development model would in the end keep more kids in the game, and develop more Canadian players.

David Wagner – The Angel Of Death – For Those Who Live Stupidly I salute You

*The Death Pool is a mix of comedy, and satire in connection with recent events.  It is not an official report of current events although it may look as though the news is so accurate that it could one day happen or may be happening

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