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Daily Dish: The Anchor - Junior Hockey News

Published: Thursday, 15 Oct 2020  
By: Stephen Heisler,

Why has climbing the developmental system’s ladder become so difficult?

Over the last few weeks we’ve heard about two situations where players have been punished for seeking opportunities at higher levels of play.

In one case it was from a non-sanctioned team to the North American Hockey League.  The pay-to-play team is trying to force an NAHL caliber player to pay the full player fee for the 2020-21 season.  Why?  Because the player was pressured by the team into signing an agreement back in April. The player signed to give himself an option if he did not make an NAHL team's roster.

One of the better NAHL teams offered him an opportunity and now the pay-to-play team wants the player to… well pay. The team wants $10,000 right now or they were going to file a lawsuit against the family and get an injunction that keeps the prospect off the ice.

The second case involves yet another non-sanctioned team.  The player re-signed with the team as a back-up plan. The coach agreed that the player could pursue opportunities in the United States Hockey League and Canada. The player took part in a number of USHL camps along with attending a NAHL team's camp. The player earned a roster spot on the NAHL team and now the non-sanctioned team owner wants his money. We know what's coming next and this parent is ready to fight.

In both cases we appear to be dealing with jealous schoolgirls and not teams that are in the business for the right reasons. 

Rest assured, I don’t have to say your team name, and the damage has already been done.  Both are absolute garbage moves and both teams will take the heavy hits in future recruiting battles.  And for what?  Because players did exactly what they should be doing; pursuing opportunities that makes them better hockey players.

Boys, we are here for you.  When you experience, or witness, operators trying to hinder movement to higher levels of play, please tell me.  Nothing makes me happier than to see players moving up the ladder.  At the same time, nothing angers me more than to hear about teams trying to hinder that process. 

Author: Stephen Heisler from
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 Victorious Hockey Company. Stephen, his wife Deysi, and four children reside in Orlando, Florida.

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