USA Hockey Tier III Rule Change Proposal To Promote Player Upward Movement

Last week I wrote a Tier III Rule Change Proposal to control expansion at the Tier III level with benchmarks all expansion teams would need to meet throughout the summer to move forward that season.  Many people expressed to me over the weekend that the same standards should apply to all teams at Tier III.  I would agree, but leave that to USAH.

Today I propose new measures to ensure that players are actually being developed to be moved up to the NAHL and USHL.  I exclude Canadian Junior A, because Tier III is not designed to develop players for Canada.

In theory, the only differences between Tier I, Tier II and Tier III junior hockey under USAH is that they operate under different financial models.  Technically the “Tiers” have absolutely nothing to do with actual talent levels of play.  That said, we all know the top players gravitate toward the Free, or nearly Free levels of play.

There is no arguing where the vast majority of NCAA commitments come from.

Tier III operators do deserve some protection in order to have there rosters from being completely raided by Tier II and Tier I teams just because the Tier III team did a great job in recruiting.  However, NO PLAYER should be forced to pay to play if he does not have to.

I say this because more than once now in my role as a Family Adviser, I have had to get in the middle of Tier III teams trying to force a player to pay even when he makes a Tier II team.  That in my opinion is unethical.  Its within the rules, but it is completely contrary to what is best for the player.

I would propose that during the spring and summer recruiting period that any player should be allowed to sign a Tier III contract with the following provisions;

If the player makes a Tier II or Tier I team before playing a single regular season game, and before receiving any goods and services during the regular season from said Tier III team, that the player is released without penalty and all money used on deposit is refunded completely.  Andy Tier III team refusing to do so should be given the death penalty and decertified under USA Hockey.

Any player receiving a call up to a higher level during the season should receive a prorated refund of any money paid, based on the amount of Tier III games played value of the yearly contract.  Any team refusing to move the player to the higher level should be given the death penalty and decertified under USA Hockey.

If a player moves to a higher level from Tier III, if later released, that player must return to the original Tier III team.  That player could not be traded to another Tier III team from the higher level team.

When a player moves to a higher level from Tier III the higher level team must financially compensate the Tier III team $500 to cover recruiting costs, or send a player filling the same relative position as the player being called up to the Tier III team losing the player.  Example, goaltender for goaltender, forward for forward etc.

Tier III teams would not be exposed to more than three of these such call ups per season.  If there were a fourth call up or more, a sliding compensation scale beginning at $1500 per player would be implemented.

These rules would not only promote more player movement up, but would eliminate parents and players being taken advantage of by high pressure coaches in the early recruiting season.  Coaches could no longer hold players for ransom when higher level teams want the player.

There are great players everywhere.  To restrict their opportunity because of financial greed is contrary to player development.  To hold families hostage and force them to pay when they do not need to pay is unethical.

Every Tier III contract should explicitly say;

“If you make a Tier I or Tier II team before playing a regular season game for our team, this contract is null and void and you are entitled to a 100% refund of any money paid on deposit within 10 business days.”

Joseph Kolodziej – Publisher

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