Many people have written over the two weeks and asked how my Christmas break was, to which I responded “What break?….”
In my line of work, the past few weeks are generally the busiest time of the year!
People often ask me what my job entails.
Generally, I explain that we help players and families make “wise decisions”.
We assist players to maximize their development and exposure opportunities, to enable them to to achieve their long-term academic and athletic dreams..
We help players avoid situations that are a complete waste of time …. In many cases, many players recently discovered that they were in such situations, and recently contacted us, in a panic.
Junior hockey is ugly.
Each year, junior hockey teams carry more players than they require for their team, during the first part half of the season.
Junior teams do not need to finalize their rosters until January.
Tier 1 teams generally carry 2-3 extra players (which is actually 4-5 more than they are allowed to dress for a game).
By early January, teams must shed 2-3 players (each) from their rosters. For most teams in North America that date was two Fridays ago.
Players released off Tier 1 teams, generally go to Tier 2 teams….
Because Tier 2 teams are already also carrying 2-3 extra players, once they have access to those coming from Tier 1 (and possibly players that have been at college for the first 3 months), they often shed 4-6 players who have played the first of the half of the season with their team…… And so on……
Junior hockey is very different than most players are used to, during their earlier playing days. They often are caught in a bad situation with little (or no) warning.
It is “all business” in Junior hockey.
Too many players get caught in the business aspects of the game, and often find themselves without a place to play hockey, come December and January.
This year, we were involved in assisting two existing player-clients who were traded from a Tier 1 team to a different Tier 1 team.
In one case, we were involved in renegotiating a contract with the team a player was traded to…, and in one case, the player did not wish to report to the new team, and we negotiated another favourable playing option for him.
We were also contacted by two players (who were not previous clients) who were released from Tier 1 programs, and they were requesting our help to help them find a place to play Tier 2 juniors, as they had played midget the year previous and their playing rights were not yet with a Tier 2 team. They wished us to identify a good playing situation, and to negotiate a favourble contract on their behalf. We did.
We were hired by 3 other players who wished to change teams on their own initiative. We were able to negotiate new situations for them.
We were also hired by 11 players who had been associated with Tier 2 teams, who were “simply released” and had to find a place to play hockey if they wished to continue playing.
In one other case, a player, who had been at college, had been placed on academic probation, and was informed that he is unable to continue playing hockey after Christmas, but still wishes to play somewhere. He still has a year of junior eligibility.
In every case, with the exception of the two Tier 1 players who were traded, these situations could have been avoided, if the players had made some wiser decisions in September…. or even during the tryouts last spring (by avoiding those teams and/or reaching different agreements).
Too often, false security is provided by teams that are trying to collect tryout fees, and by personal trainers and coaches who will reinforce confidence by encouraging players just to spend a little more (on their services).
In every case, the coach of the team was referred to as an @$&#!@, but the truth of the matter is that it is simply part of the business of junior hockey.
Remember, Junior Hockey is ugly.
It is not personal. It’s all business.
Unfortunately, for most players and families, it is not their regular business and they should not feel that they are on equal footing as those with whom they are entering an agreement with.
Not only did these players end up in a very difficult position within the past few weeks, but they also received very little development over the past three months, and (for some) their situation will be tough over the next few months as they attempt to get back into it, and fit in with their new teammates. Most were released in early December and have been off the ice (with a team) for most of a month.
Compared to where they would have been in their development (if they had made a wiser decision), this year will certainly be seen as a setback.
In each case, we have identified a better situation for the player. In the case of those players who had found themselves without a team, I predict that over half of them will eventually play hockey while attending college, so long as they continue to take care of business and make wise decisions.
If you need help making decisions this year that will help you get on your path to reaching your athletic and academic dreams, please drop us a line.
“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.”
― Steve Maraboli