Hockey player development does not begin when players are playing professionally. That is the ending point of 90% of all player development.
Hockey player development is at its most critical stage when athletes are 12 to 20 years of age. This has been proven around the world in every major hockey development country.
An uneducated minority in Poland though thinks somehow that repeating what they have already tried, and limiting import players, will somehow make Polish players better. Nothing could be further from the truth and that idea is not supported by facts anywhere.
If someone wants to save the PHL, the “professional” league in Poland, then the following needs to happen.
- A strict salary cap for every team needs to be in place. A salary cap will ensure that the richest teams can not afford to pay all the best Polish players, and those Polish players will be distributed on all PHL team rosters more evenly. This will create competitive balance.
- Fighting must be allowed. The PHL is a dirty league to play in and players use sticks and cheap shots. If fighting is allowed, the cheap shots will gradually be eliminated, and the dirty players will be forced to clean up their game or defend themselves. Hockey is not a game for soft people. Fighting is necessary.
- Not only will fighting eliminate the dirty play, but the PHL will become marketable to KSW and other combat sports fans. Increasing TV revenues and interest nation wide.
- Diving must be eliminated. Diving must be made a 5 minute major penalty. There are too many PHL players who are better suited for football than they are for hockey.
- Referee’s must learn what is a penalty and what is not. An open ice hit is almost always penalized in Poland and it is not a penalty. 90% of the referee’s in Poland would not be allowed to work high school games in the United States or Canada.
- Hockey must be operated like a business. The days of social welfare programing for Poles to play hockey are ending as Poland ends its tradition of large state owned corporations. Hockey is a business, it is time to start operating like one.
- The idea floated to ensure every team is made of 50% Polish players is an idea floated by people who have never developed an NHL, AHL, Major Junior or NCAA player. These are the top development leagues in the world, and not one of them restricts import players. All of them have financial controls in place, and all of them have specific development models.
- The 1st Liga must be made into a legitimate full time Junior Hockey League on the same platform as the junior leagues in North America. Fully amateur with real operation and development standards.
- Poland must spend its money on children! It most stop wasting money on players who are not going to get any better. Spending money on the youngest is what the top countries do.
- Poland must admit that what they have done for the last thirty years has not worked and a completely new direction must be taken.
The bottom line is simple. There are not enough Polish players that are good enough to be called professional hockey players. Until they are good enough to make a team based on their effort and skill they should never be given a free pass to be forced on to a roster.
If you own a team or any other business, will you allow anyone to tell you that you can not hire the best person for your job? You have to hire someone who is inferior because your competitors who have more money and can hire the best Polish players say so? That is the absolute dumbest idea in sport.
Will you allow someone to tell you that you must hire only people with blue eyes? Will you allow someone to tell you that you can only hire left handed people? Maybe you want a blind brain surgeon operating on you who had to be hired because he was Polish even though all of his patients tend to die?
Polish football (soccer) does not have import player restrictions. Players are forced to earn their way on to the top club rosters. Why would anyone think it should be any different for hockey?
Polish ice hockey players simply are not good enough. That is the truth. Everyone admits this fact.
The way to make them better. The way to get more Polish players into the PHL is to force them to compete for those opportunities.
The way to make Polish ice hockey better is to spend money where it should be spent. Spend the money on the children. Not on players are already not good enough to make it anywhere else but Poland.
There is no competitive culture in Polish ice hockey because players have never been forced to compete for their jobs. Until the existence of the open league all Polish players had to do was show up and they would have a high paying job.
Polish players drinking in dressing rooms, showing up to practice hung over, dressing unprofessionally, not training like world class athletes, not eating like world class athletes, is the reputation of Polish hockey. Its time to open your eyes and start speaking in truths.
Polish hockey must become a marketable product at the professional level. Until it is marketable it will continue to die a slow painful death. Until the money goes to the children, nothing in Poland will change and hockey will die.
Polish players and inferior hockey is not marketable. Poland must learn why the PHL can not even attract as many fans as a high school team in the United States. Poland must deliver what the fans wan, and not what the Polish hockey “authorities” want to give them because the “authorities” have not been correct in their assessments for thirty years.
While Robert Kalaber is and excellent coach, and Leszek Laszkiewicz was an incredibly talented player for Poland, neither has ever developed a world class hockey player. Neither speaks from the experience of working within a development model that regularly produces the best players in the world.
If Mr. Kalaber and Mr. Laszkiewicz want to have teams filled with Poles who are not good enough to play professionally, then by all means they should put up their own money, buy a team, and pay those players while playing in the PHL. Show us all how to develop men who have already reached their peak development ability.
The model is simple. It is available to Poland for free. It is time for Poland to use the resources available instead of thinking they are capable of creating shortcuts to success for Poland. There are no shortcuts to a successful hockey development model.
Foreign players can and will bring foreign money. Money is what will make Polish hockey better. Money is not coming from the Polish government to develop hockey because Polish hockey is not even a marketable product.
There is no direction for the PHL that points to success. There is only one way, and that way is to have a marketable professional product. The PHL as it has been and as it stands today is not a marketable product, and more Polish players who are of lower caliber will only make the product worse.
If having more Poles in the PHL and limiting import players would have made Polish hockey better, it would have happened in the decades of PHL play before the open league was created.
Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser
The idea proposed has been done. It was done for decades without success. It is the idea that has killed Polish hockey until now!