Like him or not, Cox is right....about Midgets and Juniors....
NCAA Recruiting: Path to College Hockey out East needs fixing
By Jeff Cox
USPHL All-Star Premier Division Game 1
Having watched a lot of college, junior, high school, midget and summer showcase games over the past few years, something seems painfully obviously, but it won't happen without a lot of pressure from key figures in the hockey community.
USA Hockey brass and NCAA coaches need to step in and make the game better and help the financial pockets of all hockey parents who have kids aspiring to play Division I or Division III hockey.
There are far too many junior hockey leagues and the crux of the problem is out east. Don't get me wrong. The United States Hockey League (USHL) is a terrific league and any parent or player would be silly to not jump at the opportunity to play in the finest development path to college hockey. This argument is not against the USHL, it is against the lesser leagues that are watered down and only viable due to the money it brings in for its organizers.
Where the problem lies is at the lower levels of "junior hockey." The words junior hockey are in quotations because half of the leagues and teams that call themselves junior hockey are an absolute joke. Not to pick on the USPHL, but that league having an empire, elite and premier divisions is just complete nonsense.
However, don't expect it to stop anytime soon. The owners of these leagues and the teams in the leagues make far too much money off gullible hockey parents and players who can't hang up the skates and realize the dream is over.
Several times in the past few years this writer has heard of or directly seen examples of kids not good enough to make their public high school team or gaining significant ice time heading off to "junior hockey." This is absurd and is proof of the watered down nature of "junior hockey." Junior hockey should be for the best of the best. It should be for kids who have finished playing high school hockey who need a little more time to develop, but who have a legitimate shot at playing college hockey. As it stands now, more than half the teams out east are filled with kids who have very little chance of playing Division I.
This is where USA Hockey and NCAA coaches need to step in and send a message loud and clear. Playing high school or prep school hockey isn't a bad thing. As a Division I college coach told me last season, "If you're a good player, we'll find you."
Sure, right now with the current makeup of the NCAA developmental path, many parents and players are forced to leave high school hockey in favor of full-year midget teams. However, that could change if enough influential coaches and others in the hockey community push for a change.
I'm not naive enough to think my opinion matters or will even change anything, but there has to be enough coaches and USA Hockey brass who have the ability to put an end to this nonsense.
Play high school or prep hockey during the high school or prep season and play for the split season midget teams during the fall and spring. When a player graduates and has a better than average chance of continuing his career to college, play a season or two of junior hockey in the USHL, NAHL or a single league out east. The EHL and USPHL need to be merged and about half the teams need to be eliminated.
There are several examples of kids playing Division 2 or Division 3 high school hockey in Massachusetts before heading to a year of junior hockey or a PG year at a prep school then receiving a scholarship offer from a Hockey East school.
This won't be a popular opinion among the lesser junior leagues and its owners and coaches, but it's a message that needs to be said. Watching today's two separate USPHL Premier Division "All-Star Games" at Merrimack College was a lost three hours for every observer in the building.
Sure, there were some good players. Vermont recruit Conor O'Neil of the Jersey Hitmen and un-committed Ryan Cloonan of the Junior Bruins showed off some nice skill, but there were far too many players who had no business being on the ice for a so-called junior hockey All-Star Game.
However, as the current makeup of the USPHL stands, it hurts players and doesn't benefit scouts trying to find good players. The Jersey Hitmen, Junior Bruins and South Shore Kings are relatively good hockey teams with several players going to Division I and some rightfully so garnering NHL Draft attention.
The problem is those players have to play against the bottom half of the league, which is just downright awful. Eliminate junior leagues, eliminate teams, combine the top half of the EHL and USPHL and everyone - players, coaches, recruiters and scouts - will all be better off.
Article is 4 - 5 years old. Since then, HS hockey died.
So, as a practical matter, there ARE fewer teams now. Everyone left MIAA.
USPHL Premier has 52 teams-52! The idea that teams have to travel hundreds/thousands of miles to these showcases to play a team that looks like it belongs in the Hingham Beer League is a complete joke and waste of time. I've seen it now 4 times in 8 games.
I've watched two NCDC games-both teams in each game were for the most part solid.
You can take the Premier level and chop off the bottom half of that league-the top teams are good for the most part, not great, good-the teams in the bottom half are dreadful. Time to face reality, hang up the skates and get on with life. I absolutely do not blame college coaches for not going to see the majority of these games.
The elite level? Good God
Hockey in NE falls into 2 categories.
1) The folks who run Prep, EHL, HNIB, E9, and High school
2) The folks who run the USPHL and Fed.
I hope the USPHL and Fed win because their model includes everyone. The other model works to the advantage of those who have money. They are the ones ruining it for the top players to rise to the top.
What are we doing? We have a lot of posts on various strings saying Junior Hockey in the East is terrible, Prep school hockey isn't what it was, High School hockey is horrible, Full Season Hockey is terrible, and so on and so forth. So basically, there is no good hockey after youth for most MA players? (Along these lines, I'd say D1 hockey is terrible also because it is glorified minor leagues, unless you like watching 23 year olds play hockey.)
I love the - "The United States Hockey League (USHL) is a terrific league and any parent or player would be silly to not jump at the opportunity to play in the finest development path to college hockey" Kid in my town turned it down and the coach said, "we never had anyone ever turn us down." Whatever, sometimes they burn out. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:
Still think they should impose a hard age limit for D-3 and washout all these Tier III Junior programs which are just looking for checks. It makes no sense to delay life 2 years, spend $20k to get into an unknown school and play in front of 35 paying customers. Coaches would have to look for D-3 kids in prep, full season and high schools and get them going by the age of 19. If you have D-1 potential go to the NAHL or USHL and play the recruiting game which currently exists. If you age-out of Tier I & II you're already behind in the game of life and move along.
Hey Grandpa, the whole point was to eliminate the scam that is being perpetrated by all of these Tier III Junior teams. The 'pay to play' model just so you can show-up at some tiny D-3 school and play in front of a handful of people who hardly care is so irresponsible on so many levels. Much better off taking a gap year, hiking through Europe and keeping your $20,000. Fielding teams of 18-19-20 year olds who are paying money just so the ice doesn't sit idle during the weekdays just to delay college is silly. Move them along, start them at 19 and if you're a kid with a D-1 shot then try-out and play in a non-pay-to-play league. At least those kids have a shot at some assistance once they go to school. D-3 there is N-O-T-H-I-N-G.
It's not about dollars and cents whatsoever. It's about facing the reality (as this player and family did) however difficult that reality may be, that the time has come to move on.
If you are a rink owner or a fledgling Tier III team owner it's all about dollars and cents. And therein lies the conflict.
I'm specifically replying to the remark regarding Mr. Cox's prospect lists. No one in my family has ever met him and I can assure you we have never paid him. My son does not go to a prep school and does not have a hockey advisor. And yet somehow his name still manages to show up on these lists. So unless there's a fairy godmother out there subsidizing the marketing of my kid I choose to believe that it's his talent that is getting him noticed!
Wrong guess. He doesn't play for any of the supposed "super select" teams; doesn't even play full season. No BA, E9, Fed for Life, USPHL, etc. He chose to stay and play with his friends that he's been with since Mites. So what's the connection?
I'm pretty sure this board is anonymous for a reason. Too many people here trash talk kids and I'm not about to subject my son to that just because I'm trying to make a point. Suffice it to say that everything I have said is truthful. I will also refer you to a poster's comment made on the "High School Season is coming!" thread on 11/20 at 11:01 am which pretty much sums it all up.
If you people were as good detectives as you think you are it would be obvious why I brought in that comment.
What? Almost incoherent drivel.
Thank you - I thought it was just me that didn't get that rant.