There have been a number of discussions in the past concerning the possible merger of the midget and junior levels of play. I feel that such a collective management structure would enhance the developmental system while wrangling a bit of control from the youth levels, especially at the 18UAAA level of play.
Let's face the reality here; the entire top end of 18U is already in the United States and North American Hockey Leagues. The same goes for Canada, except that their oldest youth level is watered down even further. 16U AAA is THE pinnacle for the youth level across both countries.
The bottom line in the struggle between the youth and junior levels has always been about self-preservation and power. Youth associations want the numbers and try to do whatever is possible to limit the hockey prospect's options. It has become more than obvious that the ME FIRST system is retarding the natural flow of talent to higher levels of play.
Youth clubs at the AAA level are always competing against junior teams for talent and that makes absolutely no sense at all. USA Hockey (and Hockey Canada) would do wonders for development by not allowing players from outside the state or province on youth level midget rosters. That change would automatically boost overall development because the top end of the talent would all be at the same levels of play.
It is my opinion that the power struggle between the youth and junior levels will always retard the overall development of both the American and Canadian games. Maybe it is time for a change.
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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