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Re:Toto, I don't think we're in Plattsbugh anymore...

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  • William Underwood
    It should HELP. But there are two obstacles. One is USA Hockey, instead of embracing major junior they tend to fight it. Mind you it is WAY better than 20
    Message 1 of 52 , May 13, 2007
      It should HELP. But there are two obstacles. One is USA Hockey, instead of
      embracing major junior they tend to fight it. Mind you it is WAY better than
      20 years ago! But they still fail to recognize the greatest asset that
      American hockey has, the world's longest undefended border with hockey's one
      true super power. Instead of embracing that concept as Canadians did
      militarily with us 50 years ago and economically with NAFTA we would rather
      chuck rocks across it and pout. And I think that is born of three reasons.
      One, egos.USA Hockey does not like to admit that they are a second rate
      hockey organization. It just KILLS them that they can't be the big ugly
      Americans legitimately like we can in football, hoops, baseball etc. Which
      brings us to point two, as a race, humility is not something that we are all
      that good at. We are a lot like the British of the 19 century at the height
      of the imperial era. "Of course we know better old boy we are English."
      Substitute American and you get the idea. And it is something that may lead
      to our downfall.I worry about that! Ultimately arrogance is the killer of
      great societies, when you REALLY start to believe that you are or can be the
      best at everything you create your own Achilles heel that down the line
      someone finds...it happened to Rome, it happened to Napoleon and even
      England, their inability to coexist with Germany sealed WW I ending the way
      that it did, fostered WW II and in the end resulted in imperial downfall.
      None of it HAD to happen! Hockey is a small symptom of the disease here, a
      neighbor who we generally are the more dominant partner militarily,
      economically, size et al is BETTER at us at something. we just can't process
      that. Instead of saying "well they have done it for a hundred years so they
      MUST know something."we say "we can do better". And of course we also have a
      moral superiority ala the 19th century British, almost a "white man's
      burden" mentality. "We have the moral high ground old boy. Our system of
      college sports is sublime and the most humane thing in athletics don't you
      know old chap." We ignore the fact that most NCAA players really don't see
      themselves as much as students as they do athletes. If ole State U dropped
      down a division in hockey these supposed students would rush to transfer! If
      one of them had a chance to go on academic scholarship but have to spend two
      years in Africa studying with the top man in a field, if he was a top player
      the coach would try to stop him. How many times do I see an engineering
      school with maybe two or three third liners actually being engineers? I have
      seen an entire team of law enforcement majors at a school that is not known
      for law enforcement.And one famous Eastern School used to have a propensity
      for having "Hotel Management" majors.a friend told me that school has gotten
      harder.interestingly enough this year the team did not have a SINGLE player
      majoring in it. And of course a lot of these guys never finish school but it
      is a "higher moral" system according to USA Hockey. The number of true D I
      schools that even come close the lofty ideals that they like you to believe
      do are VERY FEW.you have Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Union and a few
      others.none of whom are generally national powers, only Harvard makes it
      that way sporadically and even they have struggled of late!

      Now I do not mean to say that EVERY NCAA player fails to get an education
      any more than I assume to state that ever major junior player goes to
      school! But the system not only ahs abuses but encourages it. It is a
      DISGRACE to us! If every school was like a Harvard, Yale or Princeton it
      WOULD be TRULY a unique route but they are not. It should be sold for what
      it is.the kid on the long track pro. A kid that is on the faster track
      BELONGS in major junior where he can develop, take his money and run!

      In the NCAA if you have a problem with the coach, school, town, whatever,
      you have to sit a year to transfer, in junior you can ask for a trade and
      generally they happen. And gang, a coach that doesn't like you can be a real
      PROBLEM in EITHER route.major junior gives you a fast out. The reason for
      the difference is NCAA rules that are both antiquated and made for other
      sports where you have more "pure freshmen". We are the only nation in the
      world that prefers to abdicate control of so many of our best hockey players
      to a body that is not a hockey body.the NCAA. Sure they a have hockey
      committee but that committee is subservient to the basic NCAA rule book for
      which hockey is an afterthought at best. And the NCAA is an organization
      that just ahs too many master. Quasi pro big revenue sports, non revenue
      sports, smaller honest truly academic conferences (to me these are what
      college sports SHOULD BE) and the big football and hoops factories that are
      pro leagues in disguise. It is an impossible mission that leaves hockey and
      its unique issues in the dust.if it were any other way we would see major
      junior players be NCAA eligible!

      The US side on this issue all too often has a real tendency to if not
      actually lie about it-or they fail to get any real education about major
      junior. Some things they NEVER mention, consider and often mislead about.In
      major junior at any given time there are generally MORE kids in school than
      in a lot of US junior leagues. Many, in fact a majority of CHL players
      finish their high school and some take college courses, I once saw some WHL
      literature to the effect that I believe it was 80 or 90% of players were in
      school and historically they have had the highest drop out rate. Whereas
      the US junior leagues are laden with older kids who are taking two to three
      years off form school to chase a scholarship. Hence the younger future NHL
      pick odds are has more peers of his age IN SCHOOL in major junior than if he
      goes to a typical US junior team with mostly 18 and 19 year olds taking time
      off. And the mean grade has been above the provincial mean, again I refer to
      that WHL material and the WHL is generally the toughest league in which to
      pursue school. Each team has an educational officer as does each league.
      Tutoring can be arranged etc. Does every player take advantage?
      Unfortunately no they do not all do that. But nor do so many NCAA players
      take advantage of their chance at school.either not finishing or taking the
      easy way out. NEITHER ONE has a perfect record here!

      In the US route there are few guarantees. If you take those three years off
      to play US junior and get hurt, all that you have is a secondary insurance
      policy. Even in college hockey, players only have their medical bills paid
      for, and of course they generally keep their scholarship.but no added money!
      In major A you not only have a better health policy but your educational
      package is bonded, you can still have school PAID FOR unlike a the kid who
      goes to play US junior, gets hurt and loses his chance at a scholarship. An
      American parent once brought that up to me.You also can collect additional
      money.remember you are paid and 90 bucks Canadian a week is a myth of
      folklore for top players. And when and if you go to school.you are a STUDENT
      first and foremost! You either quit hockey for a while to go to a US
      university where you CAN'T play or to Canadian college where sports take a
      back seat. Most players go year round and finish in three years! Either way
      you are a STUDENT in the true form of the word. The ONLY thing that you lose
      is the ability to PLAY US COLLEGE HOCKEY and EACH word here is VITAL! You do
      NOT have to give up school or even playing college hockey. As far as travel
      goes, every league has went to an unbalanced schedule and it is no worse
      than most of US college and NONE are as bad as the WCHA! The games are
      mostly weekends like college, it is just a longer season and often three
      games instead of two. Trading is restricted to school break time.

      As for the lifestyle, you live with billet families who are parents
      themselves.most players stay in touch with their billets well after they
      leave, Some US junior teams let guys go to apartments, I know of such an
      "animal house" with three local boys that left to play in one two years
      ago.no supervision or care with predictable results.Once more in major
      junior you deal with the REAL police if you are in trouble and face
      repercussions.it is the real world! We see all of the criminals in the NFL
      today, I really think that a lot of the problem is that in college they are
      given this special status with the school making paying offs covering up
      indiscretions, or keeping it all in house. We saw the latter with the U of
      Minnesota off campus underage drinking scandal where the players were CAUGHT
      RED HANDED (and nosed:-)) on tape in an offense that by school rules means
      athletic ineligibility and possible expulsion yet what did we see.an
      investigation being made leading to nothing when we had audio visual
      evidence that you "didn't need to ask Dr. Watson to help you put on Holmes
      old boy".Is it any wonder that when players get into the real world after
      being treated like royalty and even having the palace guard of a toy police
      force on campus there to keep it all near home that they think that it is
      the same and all too often end up in the pokey! Am I indicting college and
      saying that college players are worse people than junior players? No. But
      what I am saying is that they have no moral high ground over them like USA
      Hockey would love for you to believe!

      We hear about "getting the college atmosphere" but does that really apply to
      hockey players? These guys tend to cloister together. There is nothing
      wrong with that but if that is the case, please do NOT talk to me about
      "getting the college experience" as a justification for the route! Take my
      school fro example, we had the "off campus hockey fraternity". Guys tended
      to live in off campus apartments in groups of three and four .ALL hockey
      players! They also tend to take the same majors and classes, live in the
      same dwellings so how much contact is their with the student body at large
      outside of the odd busty coed? :-) No more, maybe even less than the average
      major junior player has with people in his town going to high school in
      classes with a general student population in them no more less jocks per
      capita as it is a general curriculum. Once more they are living in a home
      with a local family with other children and dealing with the local press and
      business community through promotions-visiting hospitals, making
      appearances.remember major junior not college hockey has a "humanitarian of
      the year award" for dedication to the local community.We NEVER hear this top
      secret stuff form USA Hockey.nope they either don't state it or openly lie
      about it. To me this is the second great "wrong" next to the hypocrisy of
      college sport as we know it today. USA Hockey not only fails to admit the
      flaws of the college system but to go out of their way to attack major
      junior generally with half truths and all too often, flat out lies.

      Does major junior have its worts? OF COURSE IT DOES! But hypocrisy is not
      one of them. There are no facades.no illusion of "student athlete" and all
      too often junior recruiters fail to home in on the strengths of the CHL off
      the ice enough but that is the part of the lack of hypocrisy, they are
      hockey guys who don't pretend to be educators, saints or anything else.. Nor
      is there a need for them to lie. The NCAA is a GREAT route for many players
      there is no real need to trash it. The juniors know that they have a great
      product. It just KILLS US hockey guys to admit that somebody else has a
      system that just MAY develop talent better, that you just MAYBE should be
      the humble student to not the all knowing lecturer for, and that it is in
      CANADA.Now one can argue about abdicating the ability to develop players to
      another country but I submit that you are not.the US teams ALL have a vote
      on their fate. You can also argue about leaving the country.but the CHL has
      nine US teams so that need not be not an issue either! And of course one can
      also argue that we have thought it has been ok for Canada to give us a large
      amount of control for their national defense and to join NAFTA not to
      mention to have thousands of Canadians come down here to work and school
      each year.how does this differ? It is ultimately a similar case of pooling
      resources for the common good. But USA Hockey just can't accept being the
      junior partner.too much arrogance and ego!

      Now I said a hundred years or so ago :-) that there was a third issue with
      USA Hockey and that one is simple.GREED! As long as you play here they get
      you one little check after another. Now once you are an elite player the
      money diminishes but still you can be used to recruit PAYING players!

      So is it about development or the player? Hell NO! If it was the logical
      thing would be to sit down with the CHL and hammer out a deal! Where is
      there a better developer of talent? There is NONE. Even top Euros are a part
      of it.

      Now this is not to say that the Canadian side does not have a barrier to the
      impact in the US also. The teams are just like any other CHL club. They
      draft with them and are not truly teams of American players. Now this is
      understandable. If you did it the other way they would have a tough time
      getting the players that they would need to be competitive and if we could
      see all of the top US kids go major junior the problem may even reverse
      itself and they might have an unfair advantage.

      So after this long winded answer.the answer is that yes it is GREAT for the
      guys that take advantage of it! As a talent evaluator I have always held
      that US players get BETTER playing with and against Canadians. They are from
      a hockey culture that veritably immerses you from youth. Canadians tend to
      be not only the most intense players but are better without the puck. They
      are also form economic classes that you rarely see play down here and that
      brings a real hunger with it. Even college hockey acknowledges this, how
      many US colleges do not import Canadians? VERY FEW! But not enough US kids
      play major junior to gain the full effect. It is getting better as we know
      have over 100 in the CHL and I see those numbers growing but not as much
      because of the US teams as because there is more US talent that can play and
      quite frankly the leagues have expanded to the point where they need the
      players. The teams themselves have helped hockey locally especially in the
      Pacific Northwest where the game may well have died if not for major
      junior..the minor pros bugged out in the 70's and senior A took a nose dice
      and the WIHL died in the early 80's.so, ironically enough USA probably owes
      the WHL a NICE letter of thanks for every dollar that they get out if the
      Pacific Northwest! The CHL kept a hockey presence there and kept the game
      alive, not them!

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • William Underwood
      First of all this is not the CHL, it is Hockey Canada who the CHL has constant bickering with much like the USHL does USA Hockey. It is the national federation
      Message 52 of 52 , Jun 19, 2007
        First of all this is not the CHL, it is Hockey Canada who the CHL has
        constant bickering with much like the USHL does USA Hockey. It is the
        national federation which of course will accentuate Canadian options
        including the CHL but not limiting itself to it.

        Does USA Hockey discuss major junior in its similar packets? Nope. Do Euro
        packets discuss North America? Nope.

        Likewise, Hockey Canada only discusses that which is within its
        jurisdiction. For that matter even local organizations can be similarly
        petty. If you talk to some local folks around here they will trash the EJHL
        in favor of the AJ which is preposterous but they do it.if you look at their
        info they will not trumpet players going that route as having moved up in
        the world. Why? They want to push the AJ which has the same classification
        to the EJ in USA terms (silly politics.rules about tuitions have been
        misappropriated to imply quality and on the EJ side they have had a silly
        personal war with Mike Addessa for 15 years) despite the fact that any
        comparison pf their DIRECT graduation rates to top NCAA schools is a lot
        like putting an elephant and a mouse on opposite ends of a see saw! :-)Is
        this stuff good? NO! But fortunately these info packets are what they are
        you expect nothing more and are ultimately collateral information for the
        player that is a realistic candidate for such programs.

        The primary info source for the real prospects for these options is
        generally not printed info. In the short run it is how the people who deal
        with the kids daily talk to them and in the long run it is more the info
        from people in the know giving them advise. Such people could be family
        advisors, recruiters, local college, pro and junior folks etc. And we are
        trying to do more. I was just at a seminar this weekend that we have around
        here each year with an AHL coach, college, prep guys and I representing the
        junior end of things speaking. It is interesting.we give a balanced view,
        hell one 18 year old told me his dream was to play major junior but by the
        end of the day I had him convinced that his route will probably be D III or
        low D I college! But that is which is what is right for this kid! We are not
        at each others throats-the universal message is that there are routes for
        everybody and for everybody a route. And what really matters is that a kid
        knows ALL of the info out there. No one source will give that except for the
        honest recruiter and even we just don't; know all that there is to know of
        every route. I can't explain to you financing options for prep so there is
        nothing that I can HONESTLY tell you.you have to look elsewhere and know
        where to look if that is a question that you may have. And not even sources
        such as USA Hockey or the above mentioned Hockey Canada or ANY national
        federation is a comprehensive info source.in fact I would rank them pretty
        LOW. They are ALL terribly provincial. But what they DO give you is a list
        of places to go for further info within their jurisdictions about all
        routes. If you are a North American you should look them ALL over.

        Other interesting things that have come up.college guys really don't like
        prep school anymore.the stats were eye popping at how many kids played
        junior. Now I knew that this was the trend but the number was as I recall
        well over 80 %! Another thing that was abundantly clear was that the NCAA
        guys are a bit embarrassed at some of what Bob Turow has been saying. They
        say essentially what I have it is mostly is a personal axe to grind and very
        incomplete rhetoric type of stuff that makes them actually look bad in

        So do these pamphlets really make much of a difference with the kids that
        are the better kids? No. In fact the only kids who use them as a main source
        would be of little to no interest by the top programs. It can help to
        condition thought but as kids grow up other options become more apparent. A
        friend of mine in Quebec wants his son to go to US prep and has asked me
        about options. The kids who can play at those levels find out. The info
        system is much better today than it once was. Smaller programs lose out as
        they can't send anyone out to push their case. But the thing about prep is
        that it is becoming more and more of a secondary route even for US kids. An
        NCAA coach that I know from an IVY school just said something to me this
        year that was telling.now this is a BRAIN factory."I get all of these
        letters form kids in these prep schools and I always tell them to go play in
        the USHL." So I am not so sure that discussing prep school would even serve
        the kid well. He is better off staying in Canada and playing tier two hockey
        AND attending a private school if he wants to follow the US college option.
        Simply put the US schools watch those leagues more closely. I am amazed at
        how many fewer college guys that I see at a major prep tourney that I attend
        every year than I did even ten years ago. And you see NOTHING from the West!
        It used to be a coach's convention.a great time to talk to assistants and
        even head coaches about their seniors and pro.not anymore! No head guys came
        save the local one who was right there in town who was there for part of one
        day.and even less assistants.not even all of the ECAC "regulars" are there
        anymore. Ignoring the preps was not such a bad thing hockey wise.I know of
        few boosters of it anywhere anymore. USA Hockey types are pressing junior
        more than high school or prep these days too.

        Why? Simple, the short season and rules hurt. Many places don't even play 20
        minute periods! If you are a goalie in prep you may only play in 2 or 3
        games as a back up, in a junior league that plays even a 50 game schedule
        odds are that you play 10 any way. And what if you break a wrist in
        December.your season is done! In junior you have already been in show cases
        and have played 20 odd games and when you get back in February you still
        have a few games and playoffs. Say that you fail to make varsity.you are
        stuck on JV which is a grave yard (they will just recruit new guys to pass
        over you next year) and you have no ability to go play elsewhere like you do
        in junior. My advice is always.if you don't need to bump your grades and SAT
        there is no need for prep.you are paying 35 G fro hockey results that are
        simply not there. And if you do need academics, well it is better to maybe
        see about a good local private school fro school and to play your hockey
        outside of school. It ahs reached the point that a very good kid that I know
        who has played prep now for two years is even looking to play in the EJ next
        year not even the USHL.he has had so few bites and so much push to play
        junior form college guys. Another top local kid, a good player in New
        England was asking me to call any buddies that I have in the USHL at
        Christmas.no bites form colleges were coming. Now I used to send guys to
        prep when I saw it made sense. But today, unless there is the real sense
        that you just have no motivation and need REAL academic discipline it just
        doesn't add up.most kids are suing prep thinking that it will get them a
        hockey scholarship.the numbers say that it won't without time in junior so
        you are costing mom and dad a ton of money only to hear "play junior before
        we talk scholarship" in the end.

        Actually just a note.I just got some data about CHL and education.in the OHL
        last year 56 % of players were in high school, 32 % taking college course,
        11 % were high school grads but not in school right now for a total of 99
        plus %. Only 6 players were not in school or already had received their high
        school degree, and 2 were Europeans. Now if 99 % of players get a high
        school degree it follows that a fair amount will ultimately go to college.
        After all 32 % of the league is already taking college courses. It stands to
        reason that others will wait and take the CIS route or go back later and not
        play hockey.

        The schedule is also school friendly these days.practices are all after
        school hours..90 % of games are between Thursday and Sunday. Of 680 games
        this year, 214 were on Friday, 158 on Saturday, and 150 on Sunday for a
        total of 522.thus about 90 were on Thursday. The 68 or so non weekend games
        are during school break pretty much or local wars. And Thursday games are
        also largely over breaks or local rivals. All of this fits with what a kid
        who will play in the OHL West (the worst travel by far of the three
        divisions) next year told me.he will only miss 5 days of school due to
        hockey which is not that far above what a kid might expect in a non major
        junior program even a US program. Less than some, particularly certain
        midget AAA teams, that travel all over the country.

        Now it doesn't stop there.of the aggregate COURSES taken by OHL players,
        that is if a guy took 5 courses he would go down for 5 not as one overall
        student.97.5 % of COURSES were passed at the high school level vis a vis a
        provincial figure of 88 % for the general student population and 100 % of
        the college courses were passed. Bear in mind that none of the college guys
        is playing hockey in school and they go purely as students and most if the
        high school curriculum is generalized for all students.there are only so
        many pure gut courses represented.

        Like I said.the CHL is not dong so bad when it comes to school and deserves
        some credit for it...large strides have been made and are still being made.
        And there is an attempt being made to do an alumni survey to gain more info.
        But it is a large and daunting task. a lot of guys to track down in a lot of
        places. But there IS an interest in doing such tracking as like I said, one
        does know that a good amount do go back to school as pros or go to school
        but do not necessarily play hockey. I know some US guys did this with their
        educational packages as they opted to go to school in the US and there are
        even some guys at Canadian schools who just opt to no longer play.

        Times are changing.prep school is no longer the major route to go in the US
        (which ultimately saves a lot of people a lot of money that was so often
        just spent chasing a dream.school was not the reason for prep, a hockey
        scholarship was).the NCAA preferring junior markedly. major junior offers
        more educationally today than it once did.the world may not be perfect but
        it is getting better. And hey we a have a non Minnesotan as head of the
        junior council which is a lot like having a non Italian pope in top USA
        circles...nobody has seen Four Horsemen have they? :-)

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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