The idea of a North American Hockey League waiver system is starting to gain ground.
Those that are in favor of a waiver system believe that it will help create even more parity within the league. Teams will not be able to park prospects on lower level teams that could be playing elsewhere in the league.
Those against the concept are the teams that spend a ton of money scouting and recruiting prospects. They feel that they deserve the right to try and get a return out of their investment. Often that means selling the player's rights to a team that is pay-to-play. Which Tier III teams are willing to shell out cash for an NAHL prospect?
I understand both positions but feel that the current rules have been abused by a few organizations that also operate NA3HL teams. A waiver system should be combined with a rule that automatically gives players an out-right release to seek opportunities elsewhere.
Why am I saying this? The current system is ineffective and counterproductive. NAHL teams need to do a better job of identifying, recruiting, and developing prospects. The waiver system will force teams into selecting their roster and sticking to it.
The system will also eliminate a lot of movement at the Tier III level. When an NAHL player is sold to a Tier III team that means that a player that has paid to be on the Tier III team is likely to be released or traded to another team to make room for the NAHL player. Take a good look at USA Hockey's refund policy and it's easy to see how any Tier III operator could take advantage of the situation. It's hogwash and has to be stopped.
The result of implementing the system is ultimately a more competitive league. How much better would Odessa have been if they had immediate access to the players that were moved up and down all year?
Luckily there are more teams in favor of the system than there are opposed to it. The problem is with the makeup of the league's executive board. Any proposal of this type would have to clear the executive board before moving onto the full Board of Governors.
I am confident that a vote from the entire Board of Governors would result in a full implementation of a waiver system; I also know that the opposition will do whatever it takes to keep that vote from happening.
Author: Stephen Heisler
Stephen Heisler has spent a lifetime in the game of hockey. Stephen is also working with individual teams, coaches, and players as a director with the Heisler Group. Stephen, his wife Deysi, and four children reside in Orlando, Florida.
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