Is Hockey’s Hierarchy Limiting Opportunity?

Unfortunately, the hierarchy of hockey continues to reign supreme.

More and more players are being identified earlier and earlier on in their path. In some cases those young players are being given more opportunities in the game than others.

In some cases players make provincial teams based on their resume rather than merit.

Obviously, we have been told all of our lives that the cream rises to the top, but does it really, especially when they aren’t given a chance?

Oh you have to earn all of your chances, well that’s bull shit.

A chance is one thing, let’s try even a sniff. It’s crazy to think that people in the hockey world now more than ever are targeting and projecting kids in Atom, but that’s what I’m hearing around the game.

Sure certain birth years are “better” than others when it comes to a crop of players, but why are we pushing the envelope or forcing the issue?

Why can’t the hockey world just let things play out?

Well it all comes down to development. We all know player development matters, actually it’s everything, but why are some kids being undeservedly promoted when others are being left behind?

Is that development?

The hierarchy of hockey continues to limit opportunities. One would assume that it’s not by design or intention and who am I to say what kid deserves to make a team or not make a team, but we could all speculate that the hierarchy within the game potentially limits the “late bloomer” in many ways, especially when it comes to opportunity.

Let’s face it, opportunity is all some players ever need to reach their full potential.

Adversity in the game and all the stories of those that have taken the road less travelled inspire, but they are great reminders to never doubt the will, skill and character of the player or bank on the system to get it right hundred percent of the time.

We should never let the perceived hierarchy of the game cloud our judgement when it comes to player development.

I think one source said it best. “The good news Craig is that at the end of the day, the truth comes out and the best kids will shine.”

“Most times the kids that make teams they shouldn’t never really progress or they hate the game from the constant pressure.”

“The kid who gets cut gets to excel and develop while having fun, pressure free.”

“It’s why Myers, MacEwen and kids who were never the star players make the show and the “stars” sometimes disappear.”

Every player and person is different, they all develop and grow at different times and stages.

Let’s not close the door on opportunities by following hockey’s hierarchical model, let’s start to consider every player’s journey.

Let’s not worry about status of making all the top teams, let’s focus on what matters most, developing players and a lifelong passion for the game.

One comment

  1. I always enjoy your hockey insight and view of the game. This article in particular hit the nail on the head. The last of my 3 boys is finishing his minor hockey in the major U18 league. For almost 20 years I have watched this scenario unfold over and over again. Kids that had “advisors” were in starting line-ups, PK & PP. Their role never changed even when their play did. These kids never “grew” because they never had to earn that spot they were given. My oldest boy played with and against Zach MacEwan throughout minor hockey and watching his career unfold is a true inspiration. Thanks for voicing what many of us think!


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