It’s a difficult time of year for many young aspiring hockey players and their families across Atlantic Canada and Quebec. The excitement surrounding training camps gives way to uncertainty and sometimes devastation. It’s around this time in the process that QMJHL organizations start to make their first rounds of cuts.
Being released from a QMJHL Camp is devastating and perhaps the first time in a player’s life that they have been cut.
Being let go doesn’t mean your not good enough to play at the Q level, it just means you’re not ready yet.
Players shouldn’t lose sight of their goal and dream, their time will come
Zack MacEwen and countless others are perfect examples of players that dealt with that adversity and went on to excel at the QMJHL level and beyond when the timing was right.
Just because a player gets released now doesn’t mean they will never play and have an impact in the QMJHL.
Every player’s path is unique, the road less traveled is often fraught with adversity and disappointment. Ultimately the road less traveled is often the most rewarding. There’s always surprises this time of year. Some good and some incredibly disappointing. Some players and their families have experienced this before, for some it will be their first time which is extremely difficult.
The business side of the game is never easy and I certainly don’t envy anyone in the business when it comes to cut day.
We can all hope that the organization and those within it do it the right way. Honestly and transparency are critical when it comes to cut day.
A tweet from a young player caught my attention almost a year ago, which led me to write this.
What if hockey people were more honest, more up front, would there be less controversy? Probably not, maybe more. They would be more than likely be criticized even more for being too transparent, honest or weak.
What if hockey people were more honest and up front surrounding the evaluation and selection process?
Let’s face it no one wins in that scenario. Both sides of the equation feel helpless. Nevertheless, what if the hockey world became more understanding. I realize it’s the hardest thing in the hockey world to cut someone, but what if the hockey world became more mindful of the ways they release players?
What if they took the time to talk with young up and coming players throughout the entire process? What if they didn’t make empty promises. What if they created challenging yet fair guidelines surrounding player performance during training camp. What if they involved the player in self assessment strategies and video work during the tryout process rather than keeping everything locked up like a Brinks truck?
Hell, every hockey team nowadays have more than enough staff to conduct debriefings with players during the tryout process. If they don’t there’s something radically wrong.
I’m not saying it should all be sunshine and rainbows, but I believe the player should know where they stand, they should be given multiple reasons why they were released and they should be given certain aspects to work on moving forward.
Case in point, Major Junior Teams should be on the cutting edge of these techniques, they are in fact releasing or cutting their future.
Teams should be in direct contact with every player/prospect they release, they should be checking in with them multiple times a year where ever they are playing.
Young players and their families should know exactly where they stand within the organization. Obviously, these players and their families shouldn’t be promised anything. Hockey people that make promises are the reason why so many people hate the game of hockey and hate the supposed “political” side of the game.
I think hockey people that make promises really don’t know the game, they might think they do, but they really don’t.
Imagine making promises to your players. Imagine making promises to all of your players. Now imagine having all the talent in the world, but struggle to compete, and struggle to win.
In the sporting world, it’s hard to keep promises, there’s just too many variables, too much uncertainty.
Games played. Power play time. Penalty kill time. Time on ice. Even strength time on ice. End of game scenarios. The list is endless. Preferential treatment and making promises eliminates team dynamic, it eradicates character and pride.
Can you imagine being a coach in that environment where your GM is making promises to the players? You could have a ton of players that show great promise, but will never live up to it because they are playing in those conditions.
Can you imagine being a coach that makes promises to players? Is that a winning atmosphere? Is growth and development on and off the ice going to happen in that environment?
Can you imagine being a player in that atmosphere? Whatever happened to earning your ice time? Whatever happened to a team first mentality? Whatever happened to upward mobility within the line up?
Whatever happened to being honest? I mean really honest and up front, what about being authentic?
Some hockey people try to be honest and up front, but they get burned. Once they get burned they become callused to the personal side of the game. Deep down they try to be honest and authentic, but they don’t reveal that quality near enough because of the perception that it might cause.
You see that’s the business side, some hockey people hide behind the business side because it’s easier to make the real tough decisions.
Imagine being transparent enough to make those decisions, to have the incredibly difficult discussions openly and being honest to every single kid that got released.
What if, a player knew exactly where they stood at any time during the tryout process?
Imagine a player knowing exactly what’s at stake, but truly having a stake in the game. What a difference that would make!
Getting back to the promises, when you make promises that you can’t keep, it spawns a culture of entitlement, a culture of selfishness, a culture of greed.
There’s a massive difference between promises and earning trust. There’s a massive difference between entitlement and role identity.
A culture of promises breeds individuality and selfishness. Promises don’t belong in the game of hockey, authenticity does.
What if hockey people were more authentic?
Unfortunately, that may never happen because of the perception out there that they will be weak and get burnt or be taken advantage of.
Dishonesty or authenticity, what if hockey people and the collective hockey world shifted its focus, shifted its mindset, what a difference that would and could make.
Perhaps, it’s just wishful thinking, but hopefully some hockey people will change their mindset and change the way they do business.
Not hide behind the business side, but be automatic, honest and transparent.
What if hockey people were more honest, more up front, would there be less controversy?