In business, competition is generally considered to be good. Competition supports growth and requires that business operators run efficiently as well as providing the best product possible to the consumer.
Tier III Junior Hockey, and the evident lack of players to fill its rosters, is putting itself in peril by over expansion, and leagues having an inability to remove poor operators.
The industry, when looking at the majority of operations, would be considered healthy in numbers of players. There has never been such a number of teams as we see today. This is both good and bad.
When teams try to compete with an inadequate amount of players, they risk players to injury, and they are certainly not operating in a healthy financial condition. Teams that are not healthy financially almost always fail, and leave owing money to vendors.
Many leagues would like to remove bad operators. The biggest reason for not having a full roster, and therefore being financially healthy, is the inability to recruit players. Teams that do not deliver on promises usually have a hard time recruiting. Teams that do not work hard enough in the off-season scouting, usually do not have full rosters. Many times it is the combination of these two items that contribute to teams struggling in this way.
Unfortunately, leagues, although they would like to, can not remove these operators and must let them fail ont heir own. Franchise rights offer litigious rights if leagues try to remove teams.
USA Hockey would also like to see these operators fold up shop. Again though, there is not much they can do unless they find specific rule violations unless they too want to face a lawsuit.
The power is with the consumer. Knowledge must be gained by the consumer and some of that knowledge would include an honest self examination.
Not every player is meant to play Junior Hockey. Just because you have grown up playing, does not mean that you have any right to play Tier III or any other level of hockey. It is time to get honest with yourself as a player, and it is long over due that parents get honest with themselves about their childs ability to play.
If parents and players got honest, bad operators would not be able to put together bad teams. It is a rare thing that a good operators will continue to put a bad product on the ice. Of course, every team will have a down year once in a while, but when teams show that they continue to do so year after year, it might just be a sign of failing to deliver a good product.
Unless a team is promoting multiple players up each year and loosing, you likely have a scenario where promises have been made and not kept.
While the dilution of some rosters can be atributed to some over saturation in the market. That over saturation is also the result of bad operators being allowed to continue.
A roster of 25 is the sign of a team who is likely doing things right and one that worked hard recruiting over the summer. A roster of 20 is likely the sign of a team doing things right who may just fell a bit short of recruiting goals. A roster of 15, unless it is a late expansion team is likely a sign of trouble. A roster of less than 15 is the sign of a roster in danger and it is certainly buyer beware.
Experience, longevity and a history of development and moving players up is what a successful Tier III team is built on. Look for those items when making your purchasing decisions. But first, look in the mirror and be honest with who you see. Do you really deserve to be there? What is the goal? Or are you just living the dream? If you are just living the dream, its time to wake up.
Joseph Kolodziej – Publisher