Tier III Leagues Make Rules Not USA Hockey Compliant

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Tier III Leagues Make Rules Not USA Hockey Compliant November 6, 2012 7:50 AM

The USA Hockey Annual Guide is suppossed to be the "guide" for all USA Hockey teams and leagues no matter what level they compete at. The guide lays out nearly everything that anyone would need to know about how teams andf leagues are to be operated.

USA Hockey does leave room for leagues and teams to manage themselves within the established rules though. But what happens when they twist those rules, or completely ignore them? What happens when the league policies and procedures completely contradict the USA Hockey guide?

Eample A:

There is one USAH sanctioned league that if a player signs a tender, contract, or plays one game for any member team, that league owns that players rights for the players entire junior career! Even though the USA Hockey annual guide clearly states that any Tier III team may protect up to 5 additional players outside of their 25 man roster by submitting a list prior to August 1st of the playing year, this league thinks it can protect an unlimited amount of players per team. So, if "Johnny" played for team A as a 16 yr old, left the league for two years, comes back in the third year, the team that he played for three years prior still has his rights and he may not sign with another team! It doesnt matter if the reason he left was because the team lied to him, or he had a bad experience.

This league does this even when it is clearly against USA Hockey rules. So, be careful who are are talking to parents and players. Do not sign anything without knowing the rules.

Example B:

There is more than one USA Hockey sanctioned league that is trying to force players who are asking for a release to pay $1500.00 as a "release fee". Thats right. They want to keep your tuition on a prorated basis, and they want to charge you for a release! It gets better. Some teams are also trying to force parents to continue paying billett contracts even after the player is released!

Example C:

Team "A" signs a player, plays him for a while, collects his tuition. Team "A" sells the player to another team that is not USA Hockey sanctioned. Player finishes the season with the non USAH team. Player then wants to return to a new team that plays against Team "A" that sold the player already after collection of tuition the year before. Because Team "A" sold the player to non USAH team, players rights sill belong to Team "A" based on league rules. So, Team "A" gets to sell the player again and profits for the third time on this player. Yes folks this is the same league that says they hold a players rights for his whole junior career.

Example D:

There are several teams that are playing players in games without having signed player contracts. They are doing this while waiting for players to drop down from higher levels. The problem with this si that with no contract, parents are being blindsided with outrageous fees when the player is cut. If they dont pay, then they are threatend with being kept on a protected list and the player can not go to another team or league.

Example E:

Players on one team are not being provided with the USA Hockey Mandated "Player Bill Of Rights". The player bill of rights spells out all the players rights and responsibilities under USA Hockey rules. This includes all the financial disclosures for traded, or released players. This is a MANDATE from USA Hockey. This one team is purposefully not providing this document in order to hit parents with fee’s and take advantage of the parents lack of information and knowledge on the subject in order to retain more player tuition.

If a team releases the player the player gets a larger prorated portion of his tuition returned. If the player requests the release then the portion is smaller. Makes sens in that way to force players to request trades or releases so you can keep more money.

Example F:

Certain teams are signing players to contracts and tenders in the off season and then not turning those documents in to the league. Why would they do this? Leagues often limit the amount of contracted players a team may have per year. Once you reach that limit you pay for each additional contract you use. So, in order to keep the number secret, contracts arent turned into the league until the last minute possible. Nothing wrong with that in theory, but when the contracts arent numbered teams can sign as many players as they want making the player believe he is contracted, when in fact he is not.

Some teams are signing dozens of players to tender offers as well. What parents dont understand is that when that tender is not turned into the league it is not binding. The player thinks he has a solid offer to play for a team, when in fact the team just used the tender to make the player feel secure so he doesnt talk to other teams. The player is never notified by the league when the league receives the tender form, and they are not notified by the team when the team doesnt send it in.

Both of these tools are used to manipulate the player and parent into spending money going to main camp thinnking they are on the team or at least have a more secure spot within the teams plans, when in fact the team has no clue where the player fits in.

The cure for this is to have players and parents begin to send in their tenders and contracts to USA Hockey and the leagues themselves. If the teams contracts and tenders are used up based on a league accounting that reconciles with USA Hockeys then maybe this practice will stop.

USA Hockey makes the rules. Leagues are allowed to police themselves and make rules within their leagues that comply with USA Hockey standards. Do these instances sound like they are within the rules? Do the practices sound ethical? Most importantly do these rules sound like they are designed to benefit the player or the organization enforcing them? Isnt the game suppossed to exist to benefit the player first? Why then would anyone use these practices?

TJHN will be doing a series of follow up stories on these issues in which we will name the leagues and teams using these practices. Stay tuned.

By Joseph Kolodziej

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