The United States Premier Hockey League announced their intention to have 11 of their league teams move to USA Hockey’s Tier II status, pending approval of their application to USA Hockey.
The USPHL operates at the Tier III ‘pay-to-play’ status, in which players pay a tuition. Currently in the United States, the USHL is the only league with a ‘Tier I’ designation, in which all player expenses are covered. The NAHL is the only ‘Tier II’ league, in which player tuition and equipment is covered, but players pay a small stipend to cover their housing.
The 11 teams that will be in the league are:
Connecticut Jr. Rangers
Islanders Hockey Club
New Jersey Rockets
P.A.L. Jr. Islanders
South Shore Kings
A Tier II junior hockey option on the east coast is long overdue. Twelve years ago, the NAHL made a strong pitch to absorb the EJHL—a predecessor to the USPHL—into their league as a eastern division, but the deal ultimately fell through over cost concerns. But this year, with the NAHL adding a Massachusetts-based team in the Northeast Generals, it increased the pressure for the east coast to add a Tier II option.
Of course hockey isn’t free. The reason Tier II hasn’t been tried on the east coast prior to this year is that it is expensive, and junior teams on the east coast traditionally draw extremely poor crowds making it near impossible to offset the cost. It will be interesting to see how these teams manage to fund themselves. Extensive sponsorship help will likely be needed, and some of the costs are likely to be pushed down the lower levels of play.
It will be interesting to see if the USPHL can make this work from a financial standpoint, because if they are able to, it would be a great to have a high-level junior hockey option in the east.
Awesome. Now that my kids are at that age, I have no problem with jacking the tuition of the mite thru bantam kids so my kid can play for free.
They had to step-up. Too many kids with choices are leaving and only the mamby-pamby boys who are a-scared of leaving their mommies are staying here. The previous poster is right, the kiddie teams might be funding this whole charade because there will be no gate $ to pay for it.
On Wednesday evening, the United States Premier Hockey League announced the creation of the National Collegiate Development Conference, which will begin play next season as the first tuition-free junior hockey league based on the east coast.
The league will operate outside the jurisdiction of USA Hockey after the USPHL’s application for Tier II status—in which players do not pay a tuition fee or pay for equipment, but do pay for billeting—was denied by USA Hockey’s junior council.
The crux of the issue came down to how the USPHL planned to pay the added cost of player tuition. While the NAHL, currently the only Tier II league in the United States, mostly survives on a combination of ticket sales, sponsorships, tryout fees, and owner generosity, the USPHL’s business model for tuition-free largely relied on passing those expenses down to affiliated youth teams, which ultimately was the basis for USA Hockey to deny the league a Tier II designation. Not all agreed with that decision, but as mandates go, keeping youth hockey fees lower probably ranks higher on the list for USA Hockey than creating a(nother) Tier II junior league.(Don’t @ me. The NTDP is funded through money from the NHL, not player fees.)
So it should be interesting to see how this experiment goes. The name is, of course, a laughable rip-off of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. Though it’s not anything new. Four years ago, the league branded itself as the USPHL—no affiliation to the USHL—just a few years after the NAHL created an affiliate league called the NAPHL. One can debate whether that is intentionally misleading or just a serious lack of creativity.
Name shenanigans aside, the league taking a step to being a Tier II equivalent perhaps isn’t a terrible idea. It does give eastern players one clear path in junior hockey if they choose to stay close to home. I doubt it ever regularly competes with the USHL for top-end players because the USHL is still going to be the league where most of the best play. But it does provide another alternative for players that the USHL might not be their best fit.
It will also be interesting to see if the league competes with the NAHL any more than it already does. I suspect not likely. The NAHL is drawing from a much larger pool which should still give them an edge in talent. The NCDC has proximity to many D-1 schools working in their favor, but the NAHL does an excellent job with their showcases to the point that exposure has never been an issue for their players.
More than anything, I think the NCDC will be on the same level as the USPHL. Some very good players, a number of D-1 college players, but not quite the depth you’d see in the USHL or NAHL. Regardless, it will be interesting to see them move forward without USA Hockey and to see if this alters the junior hockey landscape at all.
So if you think the NCDC will be on the same level as the USPHL, then that's Junior hockey III.
The USHL the kid who doesn't have a college commitment is the exception; the USPHL the kid that has a college commitment is the exception - big difference.
As much as I hate to agree with anything that USA Hockey does, I have to agree with them not sanctioning this. Passing the costs on to all the other programs is not in USA Hockey's mandate to grow the game. Making youth hockey more expensive to benefit a small number of players at this level will not help them. I hope it works out for them in the long run. But it is basically just going to make their youth programs the feeder system since they will be paying more to play at the youth levels, the parents will be expecting to have their kids get top consideration for the free spots on the Tier II teams.
I don't think that was in the cards. These teams already charge at the upper limit of the possible pricing range in order to maximize profits so there isn't a whole lot of wiggle room for moving prices up - if they could, they would have done it already.
The issue may be the potential sponsorship money for the league coming from the NHL and they have no interest in watering down the USHL by pulling kids away from it. It's a viable league that fills the rinks and develops players. Furthermore there is no chance USA Hockey is interested in spending money on a money losing league when they love nothing more than being fat and happy, draining cash out of the system to fund the national program and line their pockets.
Certainly just my opinion, but I think this is a nightmare situation for USA hockey and I think they may have made a mistake.
Assuming this works, and it may not, this will certainly hurt both the NAHL and the USHL. USA hockey had the opportunity to work with the USPHL and who knows down the road, combine the NA with the USPHL. The USPHL is probably going to go off the grid and possibly go AAU. If they do that, they could roll the youth teams in as well and now USA hockey, in the east at least, is on the decline. The USPHL is not only here in the east, they go all the way to Florida and now teams in the mid west. USA hockey certainly doesn't want to lose all those kids to AAU.
This does offer kids with D1 offers in the east an opportunity to stay here and I would be willing to bet, most Hockey East coaches would prefer to have them stay here. This way they can monitor their picks easier and it could cut down on expenses for travel. Also, if you are a kid out west and have a desire to come here to play college hockey at the D1 level, this now becomes a better option then it already is.
As far as the cost, don't know how much of a fan draw this could be with all the options out here. They are definitely rolling the dice on that. However, if they did raise costs of other teams by $100 per player, I don't think that would make people run and go to another league. Now they already are the top Jr league in the east, they can probably go after some bigger
Time will tell...
they can offer whatever they want, free tuition, raise prices to the youth programs, whatever. It still doesn't have the Tier II designation from USA Hockey. A pig with lipstick, is still a pig
And what exactly does that mean??? Do you think the average person cares if its USA hockey, AAU, or Joe Smiths hockey league?? If its free and the competition is good does it matter if USA hockey gave its blessing? I don't think so.
The competition level is already close if not even with the NA. I don't have the numbers but I bet they have as many D1 commits as the NA on a per team basis. Obviously the NA has more teams so the overall number is bigger but per team its close.
Trust me, not a big fan of most of the guys in the USPHL, think there are a lot of ego's that get in the way, but you have to admit they have done a good job.
Like I said, time will tell.
Don't really disagree with you but that could change. With it being free to play now, you could get more D1 level kids without commitments to come out this way.
First off the competition is already pretty good. Very comparable to the NA and better than anything else around here.
If you had a kid that wanted to play D1 here in the east, where would you want him to go, the Islanders or Amarillo?? I think it is kind of a no brainer. The competition will get better when you can offer a free tuition program.
You are right, the competition in the USHL is clearly better, deeper, but this now becomes a viable option to stay here and play or for kids to come here from the west.
Just my opinion but this is not the old EJ or the current USPHL, this changes the landscape of Jr hockey.
Again, time will tell but in my opinion this league will be stronger than it is.
But this is exactly what USAH does to fund USNTDP. Not a fan of USPHL but to say you can't fund via a tax on others when that's how USA hockey does it is so hypocritical. That's what you get when you have a monopoly. Not accountable to anyone so do as I say, not as I do.
So what is going to happen mid season when most of these teams can't stay afloat? Look at the participants. There's three or four programs that have enough beef to their youth programs to fund this. The programs like the bandits have no chance.