The current USA Hockey Rules on Junior hockey as they relate to the ages of players begins on page 159 of the annual guide. Below was copied directly from that guide.
The current rules are a breading ground for the destruction of Midget AAA hockey. The current rules do not promote the development ladder being preached by USA Hockey.
In fact, the current rules create a negative development environment by allowing players and parents to believe they can take an accelerated path to junior hockey. The Tier III path has proven to not be one of accelerated growth, yet it has more than likely proven to be the death of some players potential.
Added below in bold is what TJHN would propose for a rule change;
C. Junior Age Players and Citizenship Commencing with the 2012-13 playing season and each season thereafter, the Junior age group shall only include participants who are at least 16 years of age and no older than 20 years of age as of December 31 of the current playing season. Junior teams/leagues are to be divided into Tier I, Tier II, Tier III Junior Leagues, and Junior Independent Teams and provisional for any of the above classifications.
(TJHN would propose changing the preceding section to read as follows;)
C. Junior Age Players and Citizenship Commencing with the 2018-19 playing season and each season thereafter, the Junior age group shall only include participants who are at least 18 years of age and no older than 20 years of age as of December 31 of the current playing season.
Junior teams/leagues are to be divided into Tier I, Tier II, Tier III Junior Leagues, and Junior Independent Teams and provisional for any of the above classifications.
Junior teams/leagues at the Tier I and Tier II levels may petition USA Hockey to up to ten of 16 and 17 year old players for each team. Said petitions to be submitted for review no later than August 31st prior to the coming season.
Junior teams/leagues at the Tier I and Tier II levels may petition USA Hockey to use additional 16 and 17 year old players as the season moves forward by once weekly addition and/or subtraction transactions filed by Tuesday of the oncoming playing weekend and decided upon no later than the Thursday before weekend games.
This second phase of additions and subtractions of 16 and 17 year old players shall commence after the first full weekend of Tier I and Tier II regular season games.
16 and 17 year old players on initial Tier I and Tier II rosters can not be released without having played in at least two regular season games.
No player, regardless of age, can be forced to accept a trade to or report to any Tier III team at any point.
Tier III teams/leagues can not roster any 16 or 17 year old players who do not turn 18 prior to December 31st of the commencing season. There are no exceptions to this rule.
This rule change proposal has officially been submitted to USA Hockey and the junior council for its review. Confirmed by the following email receipt;
Your proposal has been received and I have passed this on to the executive office for the USA Hockey Winter Meeting.
Will the Junior Council do anything with it? Unlikely when some members of the Junior Caucus would be effected by the proposal.
Is it what makes sense for Junior Hockey? I think so, and so do others. Then again, what makes sense isn’t always what takes place.
So, instead of simply talking, or complaining as some people have called it. I have taken the step of making an official proposal. Should it actually make it on the agenda I will be in Florida to defend the proposal and try to lobby in its favor.
Advocacy takes action. While my actions in making this proposal may upset many, it should, if nothing else, develop a conversation to help fix what is clearly a broken Junior Hockey “system”.
Joseph Kolodziej – Publisher