Lets start at the beginning. Understanding why, USA Hockey, Hockey Canada, and nearly every other country on the planet has import player restrictions in Junior Hockey.
Yes, nearly every country has import player rule restrictions. So, the United States and Canada are not alone.
Junior Hockey programs have been designed to develop the top level players in each country. Not to operate a business for profit, though that is what it has become in most cases.
Developing your own nations players has been the goal. Developing other countries players, is not the mission.
NCAA Hockey is an American Tradition. It is what American players are shooting for. It is indoctrinated into all of us at a very young age.
Major Junior Hockey is a Canadian Tradition, with its indoctrination taking place beginning at birth.
European Hockey development also has its traditions and its own way of indoctrinating its players in those traditions.
Therefore it stands to reason that all countries use import restrictions to focus on the development of their own players first. This makes sense particularly when you think about how many programs play out of or in publicly owned or subsidized buildings.
In Canada, Major Junior has an import player draft. It also limits the imports brought into all three leagues.
In Tier II Canada or Junior A, the only imports allowed are Americans, and those are also limited. Same in Junior B. No European or Asian players at all.
The USHL, NAHL, and NCDC also have import player restrictions. The USHL and NCDC go even further by limiting the number of 20 year old players allowed in the leagues.
What do the USHL, Major Junior, NCDC and NAHL all have in common?
Not one of those top level development leagues is begging for more import players. Not one of them, because they are not needed to support the level of play.
The only group complaining about import player restrictions, and wanting more import players is the group of pay to play teams that have no clue how to recruit against their recruiting competition in North America.
The reason the top leagues are not complaining is because they already get the best players. The best players can play anywhere they want, its just that simple.
When import player numbers were raised in the USHL, and NAHL, there was no noticeable increase in import player tryout camp numbers, or import players being rostered.
When the NCDC opened up to imports, there was no great rush of import players on rosters.
Canadian teams aren’t using all of their “USA” import player roster spots either.
There are reasons for this, they are very good reasons, and you would only know them if you actually understood what other countries think when it comes to hockey development.
Stay tuned for part two…..
Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser