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Re: Midget Super Leagues

Don't kick dirt on the NA3's grave just yet. If you dig deep you will see there are NAHL big club owners that are buying up and affiliating themselves directly with NA3 programs near them. They will use these teams as feeders to develop/stash players and even go so far as sharing staff, i.e. the GM/Head Coach of the big NAHL club calling the shots for the NA3 team. The NA3 is in the process of re-inventing itself. It will shrink and the ones who are left will be the clubs that are strong enough to stand on their own or are owned/directly aligned with an NAHL club.

The NAHL is a far flung, national league, so this isn't happening everywhere all at once, but where this is happening right now is in Minnesota/Wisconsin with some of the NAHL clubs in the Central and Midwest divisions. Coincidentally, the USPHL has moved into Minnesota/Wisconsin with the teams in the Midwest West division. Who do you think is going to end up winning this battle?

As to Midget super leagues, I have heard there was going to be some shuffling of leagues at the Midget AAA level. First, the NHL would like to see local Midget AAA programs play in an NHL like league together. So you would have the Chicago Jr. Blackhawks (Mission rebranded), Jr. Blues, Little Caesar's, Jr. Ducks, Jr. Kings, Jr. Preds, Jr. Golden Knights (formerly Vegas Storm bumping up into a AAA program) etc. forming a league. Problem is programs like Mission and LC are just too good for some of the other programs like the Preds. Besides, why would LC commit to all that travel when they could stay so close to home and play some of the top Midget competition in the country in the Detroit and Chicago areas?

I've also heard about some shuffling and maneuvering with the current HPHL, NAPHL, and T1EHL. That's normal stuff though as movement always happens.

What is different is the feeling that Tier 1 AAA is getting watered down and there is this movement to create Tier 1 Elite where only the top, top programs play each other. Might be as simple as a Tier 1 Elite invite showcase, a new league, or an entirely new designated level. Who knows?

Re: Midget Super Leagues

Highly unlikely the HPHL or TIEHL would hitch their wagons to the NAHL. While a number of players from those leagues go on to the NAHL, the top players go to the USHL, or even the OHL or WHL Canadian major junior leagues. Those midget leagues would not agree to NAHL tenders because their top players are not going to the NAHL.

The trend in hockey, like in business generally, is consolidation, with more regional and even national leagues. TIELHL, NAPHL, etc. are examples. By the way, NAPHL is the NAHL midget affiliated league, NA3 is an affiliated junior league. Even the HPHL Chicago/Detroit teams are expanding their reach with a joint event in Boston with the top NE teams, and teams like Selects at South Kent are also going to events in Detroit.

USPHL is expanding significantly, both in number of teams and geographic reach. Other leagues will no doubt match them. I think this is, for the most part, good for hockey. Scouts tend to frequent larger events, which are often put on by the larger leagues. The larger NE showcases also have an affiliation with Mass Selects/EHF/USPHL, so this is already happening organically, if not officially.

As always, the unique wrinkle in NE is that many, but not all, of the top players go prep, whereas in other parts of the country the best and only option is typically FS teams. That differing landscape from the rest of the country is recognized in NE with a number of SS teams coming together in the fall for various showcase leagues and events. The newly merged Mass Selects/EHF/USPHL will no doubt take advantage of the fall season as well with all the SS teams that are now part of its constituency. At the same time, the number of FS teams is increasing, so I think we are likely to see more showcases after the SS ends for the FS teams. I do like the USPHL move to have the top teams in the league compete against each other, and move the lower teams into their own division.

I still think regional leagues will be the norm because of the cost of travel, particularly in hockey hotbeds like the Midwest, and the top teams in NE. Perhaps a few national events.

As an aside, someone mentioned online schools as something negative. Not necessarily. I'm sure there could be a healthy debate, but I know many people that have had some very good experiences with online schools, particularly as to increased executive functioning, organization, time management, moving at an advanced pace, etc.