Enough already. The import restriction has officially wore out its welcome and needs to be eliminated. Here is why.
What is the reason for the import restriction? Initially the thought was to preserve the system for the development of American players. Ultimately, it turned into a tool to maintain competitive balance. You have look at today's game to realize that the rule has out lived the usefulness.
With the bulk of pay-to-play hockey now operating outside of USA Hockey, allowing the existing leagues to open up to all international players would actually be a help to USA Hockey. I'm pretty sure teams would be willing to pay a slightly higher fee for the opportunity to roster these players.
From a developmental perspective, eliminating the import restriction will quickly raise the overall level of play, enhancing the process for all prospects. The last time I checked, the NCAA does not seam to be hindered by an import restriction and plenty of American kids are getting opportunities.
The elimination of the rule will put the remaining USA Hockey sanctioned leagues into a more competitive situation with both Canada and Europe, essentially giving many more prospects the opportunity to develop their game here in the United States. This influx of talent will not only improve the on-ice product, but also be a boost to the entire developmental system.
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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