We are getting calls every day now. Players are being more selective than ever, and with so many different leagues and opportunities to choose from, it's no wonder that coaches are concerned.
And they should be.
With the battle for players raging on between the different leagues and levels of play, it's the consumer that will likely come out on top. The leagues continue to add new teams, spreading the decreasing talent levels to the extremes. In any battle for consumer dollars, the entity that invests in providing an exceptionally valuable experience will generally come out on top.
As a result, pay to play teams have responded by raising the bar when it comes to coaches, amenities, and developmental experiences. We are seeing a higher number of high level coaches making moves to this level of play
Lets face it; nice niches can be carved out at the pay-to-play level. We are seeing more and more high quality coaches moving down a notch in search of a more stable environment.... and because it pays more.
In the end, we will certainly see a reduced number of teams. That's going to happen when the number of player slots exceed the number of available players. Like the housing market crash, prices will start falling to a point where many operators will not be able to sustain their operation.
The key to success is the delivery of the experience. Operators need to make sure that every promise is upheld and to not try and cut corners on player amenities. Stop talking about exposure and start delivering it.
Often times we hear that certain teams don't want their player signings and information blasted here on JuniorHockey.com. Why not? Because other coaches will go after those players. Let's make this point perfectly clear, if little Tommy is swayed to go to another team, after committing and paying for the team that announced him, does the team really want that player anyway?
It's also the time when former players can make or break an organization. Teams that get the reputation of not working with higher level teams for call-ups are going to suffer during the next recruiting season. All it takes is one trade refusal and a coach's reputation can be torched.
Teams need to realize that these players are customers, not property. If they are able to play their way up and off the roster, by all means let him go. There will be ten players wanting to fill that hole when word gets out that the team will actually advance players mid-season and does not just talk about it.
Kids are not stupid. At an event this spring, one coach of an expansion team was bragging about his ability to move players from his new pay-to-play team directly to a team in the United States Hockey League. There is a much better chance of winning the PowerBall and MegaMillions on the same night than there is of that coach telling the truth.
The sad part is that some parents and players will actually believe such tall tales.
Bad-mouthing other programs is another tempting trick that many coaches fall back on. That's a dangerous road to go down because folks talk. Not to mention that doing so is just a cowardly way to recruit players.
Prospects that hear such baloney should consider the statement as the red flag and simply end the conversation. If the coach will bad-mouth other teams, what's he going to say about the prospect when the college coaches call?
As always, players and parents are welcome to contact me directly at any time to ask questions or make recommendations.
* Disclaimer: This site may contain advice, opinions and statements from various authors and information providers. Views expressed in this article reflect the personal opinion of the author, Stephen Heisler, and not necessarily the views of JuniorHockey.ca. JuniorHockey.ca does not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any advice, opinion, statement or other info provided in the article, or from any other member of this site.