USA Hockey Turns Down Rink Owner Model on Technicality
USA Hockey has determined The Rink Owner Model for free Junior Hockey in the East is not a viable business model versus the fan based junior hockey model seen in the Mid-West. In turning down the USPHL’s bid, USA Hockey has told no to 2 individuals with a net worth more than 2.0 Billion, two NHL clubs, and collectively a group who provide hockey to over 10,000 individual players and operate hockey facilities valued in excess of $100 million. The USPHL owners have pledged to not insert a surcharge on their youth programs to pay for the increased costs of the new tuition free model validating the group’s continued goal of lowering the cost of hockey in their buildings.
The USPHL was turned down on two technicalities, an 11 versus a 12 team league and 50 regular season games versus a mandate of a minimum of 60 total games. The original criteria was changed over the summer by the USHL/NAHL run junior council (the USPHL does not have a seat on the council although the league is largest junior league in the country) to specifically thwart the USPHL initiative. How “league worthiness” can be determined in so arbitrary a process is puzzling…. remember, this group provides the training ground for a multiple of college and NHL stars including some of the US’ most recent success stories in Jack Eichel and Jimmy Vesey.
One interesting note is the existing NAHL East Division has more problems than answers in the east. None of the programs have meaningful in-house player pools to draw on in comparison to the USPHL group and the fan base has not materialized as advertised. Where was the USA Hockey diligence surrounding the NAHL expansion with one current NAHL East owner being indicted on several felony charges and its Boston based team without a home facility and rumored to not be paying its bills. A quick review of the drop adds out of the NAHL East Division shows a clear exodus of the few talented players to the USHL, the BC League and the USPHL.
Is USPHL Better Off ?
Now that the USPHL has been told to proceed on its own the question becomes have they been provided a better opportunity for success. The ownership group and coaches have been executing Junior Hockey in the East for decades and now can write their own play book.