By David MacDonald
A couple of years ago during the Memorial Cup Series…., I heard a very interesting comment that made me think and do a bit of research, at that time….. and it is a very important bit of information that I believe that every player and every family needs to consider as they begin to consider their options……
During a break in play, the Commissionaire of the QMJHL stated “Thirteen hundred (1,300) players benefited from $5 million last year in scholarship moneys.”
It sounded as though, he was referring to the fact that there are 1,300 alumni CHL players benefiting from the post-secondary education packages offered to CHL players (amongst the 60 teams of the WHL, the OHL, and the QMJHL).
At the time, working ou the math, that would equate to about 433 players for each of the three member leagues.
The first thing that seemed unusual to me was the fact that in the CHL, there are only about 1,500 rostered players in total per season (400-450 in the QMJHL)
Assuming that the understanding to the viewer was the same as mine, which was that 1,300 alumni were attending college or university, and if each team was to graduate an average of 6 rostered players per season, one would assume that 90% of the players in the CHL go on to use their earned educational packages.
This assumption would be based on the fact that scholarship moneys can be accessed for up to 4 years following graduation (and that 6 players per team x 60 teams x 4 years = 1,440 eligible players).
After hearing those comments, and after working with (and talking to) a lot of players and families, I thought I would do some research and have a closer look at the numbers.
Upon further examination at the time, I came to believe that the information provided must also include the cost associated with educating their 16-20 year old current players, and so that is why the numbers seemed a bit skewed.
At that time, I estimated that each team must be educating 60% of their current team, and so then the total number was closer to 400 alumni players attending post-secondary with financial assistance from their past major junior team/league, which was more in line with what I had always understood to be the case.
After that statement was made on television, I went looking for some more information, and I found a very informative report published by the QMJHL.
The QMJHL produced a Responsibility Report (visit https://hockeyfamilyadvisor.com/scholarships-to-encourage-education).
In that document, it was reported that 129 former QMJHL players received close to $500,000 worth of scholarship money for post-secondary education in 2010-11 (an average of approximately $3,875).
In the same document, it stated that for those same 129 players, it had committed a total in excess of $673,500 ($5,522 per player).
I was not sure what to make of that printed fact in their document.
It sounded as though the 129 players had only qualified (on average) for just over one year of post-secondary education money.
At the time, I wrote and asked if the League would like to clarify and I offered to publish their response. I received nothing.
With 129 post-QMJHL players receiving education money that year, it was made to sound as though it equated to about 29%, which would still be an outstanding number (in comparison to what I understood it to be), however….
If one then uses the information in their report…, the same 129 former players…., and divide it by the number of teams (18 during that year), it equated to roughly 7.2 players per team.
Some of these players were in their in first year of post-secondary education, some in second, some in third and some in fourth.
Considering that at any given time, each set of team alumni attending an educational institution would have been from a four year cycle it equated to an average of 1.8 players of each of those four years having benefited from a financial package to help pay for a post-secondary education, which is roughly 7.2% of any one team’s yearly roster (of roughly 25).
Where it really becomes interesting is the number of players that make themselves ineligible from ever receiving a NCAA scholarship (approximately 81% of all post-secondary educational institutions in North America that offer high level men’s hockey)
So the question then becomes, “How many players step on the ice with a major junior team, “chasing the dream”, with absolute disregard of ever being able to chase the dream south of the border, and never earn an educational dime by leveraging their hockey skills?”
If one considers that each team has a 50 man protected list, plus they invite another 10-12 “walk-ons” to their tryouts, each team will have an average of 60 players burn their eligibility each season. This calculation shows that only about 3% of the total players who actually step on the ice each Fall and make the conscious decision (or not) to burn their NCAA eligibility, will ever earn any educational money from the major junior route in Canada.
It all sounds good, until one actually begins to dissect the numbers.
Again, if I am incorrect in any assumptions, and the League(s) would like to send any information that would dispute any of what I have said, I will certainly be pleased to set the record straight. I consistently make this offer in everything I do and say, and I will often hear from them to threaten me. but am never provided any other facts. Their input is always welcome.
My only interest is to help players and their families make wise decisions.
I urge all hockey players to keep all options open for as long as they can in order to maximize the possibility of leveraging their hockey skills to earn an education in the future.
I constantly preach that there is no “right or wrong answers”….., just the necessity to make a informed decisions along the way……
It is important that players and their families know what the possible consequences ,and likelihood of future (or no) benefits will be, if they make improper decisions.
Please just don’t just read the fancy brochures, or listen to the spin doctors…. I urge you to do the math and conduct your own research as well.
One of my favourite quotes, and one of the underlying principles of my work, is “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself. “ by Eleanor Roosevelt.
Our business service model involves helping players and their families make well-informed decisions, while referring to the past experiences and wisdom of others.
Unfortunately, this is the time of year, when too many decisions are made based on hype and on “ego”, and caution is completely thrown to the wind.
If you think we can help make the important decisions, please let us know.