There are a number of various opinions in regards to the ultimate gauge of a country's developmental program. Is it the NHL Draft? World Juniors? World Championships? Olympics?
I think it is a combination of everything. As hockey nations, the United States and Canada has been very successful in general but at the same time, North America has certainly lost its grip as the world's hockey superpower. Europe has developed an amazing amount of hockey talent and continues to be a force on the world's hockey stage.
Many believe that USA Hockey has made a mistake in regards to both the USNTDP and ADM.
The ADM has the power to step in and make a change; the problem has been the full implementation of the system. Remember, most rinks are privately owned and operated, if USA Hockey continues to interfere with the business practices of these rinks, they will simply choose to sanction with another entity.
The USNTDP is a fantastic concept, and is certainly a developmental powerhouse, but it has also retarded the natural growth and strength of the entire system. Let me explain. If the money spent on the USNTDP was spent on building stronger programs at the youngest levels of youth hockey, I think the return on investment would be substantial. The same goes for any money USA Hockey gets from the NHL. It simply does not make sense to put so much emphasis and resources on the top end of the program when the bottom is simply not holding water.
Our very best coaches need to spend time with our youngest prospects. USA Hockey and Hockey Canada needs to focus on the marketing of the game to the parents of these children and establish operational guidelines in regards to their development. The ADM was a good start, now let's see how well the next stage of real development is received.
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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