Tier III Junior Hockey And Its Purpose

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Tier III Junior Hockey And Its Purpose November 26, 2012 7:34 AM

Tier III is about player development right? Well, at least that is what I have been told, and what teams have been telling players and parents for years when recruiting.

In theory Tier III hockey should be about developing late bloomers, young players who cant afford higher priced programs, and for local players looking to keep playing for one reason or another.

What Tier III was not intended to be was a place where players get trapped. It is not meant to be a place where teams deny players call ups in order to keep winning games. It was not meant to be a place where teams promote players on other teams in order to weaken their competition when they should be promoting their own player up no matter what the cost. It was not meant to be a place where teams get angry with players for accepting or wanting a call up that the "team" did not develop.

So I ask the reader, do any of you, without using Google, remember who the Tier III league champions were off the top of your head? For last year? For two years ago? Most likely you might remember the team named National Champions, but you wont remember league champions. The reason why you wont remember? Because you really dont care who won the league championship unless you had a player on that team or were associated with the team in some way.

Like you, higher level teams and recruiters dont remember either. The fact is, they dont care how many games the team won or lost, they only care about players development.

Unfortunately more than a few teams across the country have been holding players back that could be moving on and up. They use a variety of excuses, and can sometimes almost be believable. Many times though, the player isnt even hearing about these opportunitites. Parents certainly arent hearing about the opportunities, and sometimes, the Tier III coach that would have sent the player up is not aware of the call up or is blocked from doing so by an owner or general manager.

Why would this be happening? There are usually two reasons.

The first being that Tier III teams are sometimes not prepared fora call up of one of their players and the loss of income that comes with it. Tuition based programs are sometimes not prepared for the loss of tuition. Some teams end up allowing the call up though once the player agrees to not receive any refund of tuition.

Another reason is that some teams dont want to loose a top player because it will effect their ability to win games. This reason is probably the most disturbing. Since when were Tier III teams created to be all about winning?

More often than not it is a combination of these two reasons.

Not all Tier III teams operate in this way, many teams try to move players on when ever possible. Unfortunately though there seems to be a growing number of teams that do not see Tier III as the development level it is meant to be.

Many teams now are promoting how many championships they win, how well they do in the standings, and how well their fan support is. Players become blinded by these items sometimes. Parents and players have somehow developed the imaginary corolation that these items actually have an influence on how many players go on to higher levels, when in fact those items have no influence on development at all.

Getting back to what Tier III was designed to be is what teams should be doing. Promising to develop the player is the promise that should be kept and worked toward. Perhaps some type of data base or clearing house where teams could go through and directly contact the player or parent when looking to call a player up needs to be developed.

Opportunity lost is not real opportunity. Teams that hold players back for any reason should be held accountable in some way. But with no way to catch them, what is the player or parent to do?

The first question parents and players should ask teams in the next recruiting season; How many players did you develop and how many received call up opportunitys last year? How many players did you move on to college last year?

The answers to those questions will tell you all you need to know. Dont be fooled by wins, or how many fans are in the stands. Development is what you pay for at Tier III.

By Joseph Kolodziej

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