The OP made some good points. Although because these owners are understandably in it for profit, likely will never happen. New England is much deeper than most regions of the country in terms of depth of talent that runs the spectrum( i.e very good, high end, elite talent). Very good- have a chance to play d3, high end- potential d1, etc, etc. Lets not get too caught up in the verbiage; Elite, AAA, Premiere, blah, blah...
8 teams at each birth year is more likely to field 20-23 players each incl goalies- 180+, with talent levels that would run the aforementioned spectrum. Nothing wrong with that! Each birth year ( Throughout New England) has 40-50 players going to Natty Camp and 150-200 kids playing in their regional festival. Add in the handful of the relos, billets, canadiens/overseas kids ( just as the midwest youth leagues do) and you have yourself a league. Not to say you have to make a festival to be in the mix. Just using it as a reference.
The FED over the last few years has been the closest thing to it. Plenty of players in the E9 and other leagues that could easily play in the FED and will ultimately pass many of the current FED players down the road. Many choose to play outside the FED for a variety of reasons. Some who do play FED are there for reasons outside of their ability, no doubt. Its a lot like life!! What league you are in as a 10 or 11 year old should have zero bearing on where you go with any sport. Those of us with older kids have seen every example.
The biggest issue around here is that hockey at every level has been watered down. Too many programs, too many choices, Too much marketing, Everybody trying to make a buck. Although MN is far from perfect, they seem to have a better handle on things than we do.
Right now both leagues claim a supposed 19 elite teams between leagues. Trimming to 8 would help but 6 would be ideal. 8 takes you from 323 players to 136. Acceptable start. Going to 102 would dramatically improve the level of play.
So I will admit it. My kid is not good enough to make one of these teams. He is a lower end elite kid. I know it and accept it.
Saying that, there's always a hockey team for every player. Tier 2 could become a real Tier 2 around here. He loves to play and he would be totally fine with it and so would I. I would also love watching the best of the best play each other.
Here's a suggestion. Relabel it Tier 1 the way it supposed to be. Six teams from the Northeast, six teams from the Midwest, six teams from the rest of the country. 3 from greater Toronto area, 3 from Montreal area, 3 from Quebec, 3 from Vancouver area and so on.
Cross pollinate the best of the best from Canada and the US and we grow the game.
Figure out a way to offset cost through sponsorship or donated ice in there you have it. One big problem is USA hockey would actually have to start caring about developing players versus lining their pockets.
One thing is for sure, we have some people out here that agree we have a problem and have demonstrated there are much better alternatives than the products out there today. The ultimate goal would be to have 3 or maybe 4 levels of play from 8u-14u. That's open for discussion. These different levels would allow kids to compete and challenge for positions as they develop. Similar to the minor league hockey system. There wouldn't be a draft per say, but organizations should be free to call up a player or send down a player during the year as deemed appropriate by the coaches. Making this system the most competitive throughout the year.
Starting to like this idea more and more...
All you have to do is get rid of owners and then find a non profit to run the league.