It's that time of the year again. Undercapitalized junior programs will be falling by the wayside over the next few weeks. It's become an annual tradition to see a number of teams fail, leaving players to scramble for spots on other team rosters.
If pay-to-play junior hockey is going to be a productive component of the developmental system, operators are going to have to change the way they do business.
Programs that want to survive will have to restructure themselves as a logical first step after youth or high school hockey. Teams that move from trying to retain players for their entire junior career to doing whatever possible to help move players to the next level of play will have the most success year after year.
The biggest weapon in any recruiting battle is the ability of pay-to-play teams to celebrate the accomplishments of former players at higher levels of play.
There is a very good reason that the major junior level conducts bantam drafts; that's where the talent is. Pay-to-play teams need to start focusing their recruiting efforts at the bantam level as well. In many cases, AAA youth players are there because they have the financial means to pay the bill, there is a tremendous amount of talent at the AA level as well.
The future of pay-to-play hockey depends on the ability of the program to attract a higher caliber of talent away from the midget level of play. The great hockey state of Minnesota could easily become ground zero for the next revolution of recruiting.
So I leave you with this question, how many prospects have been identified for 2020-2021, 2021-2022 and beyond? Get those players lined up and the recruiting job becomes much easier.
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 Victorious Hockey Company. Stephen, his wife Deysi, and four children reside in Orlando, Florida.
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