Simple - play town hockey first when you start out and get a ton of confidence. If/when you DOMINATE at that level, move to a higher level. Keep doing that until you can't dominate anymore and then you are at the correct level. Throwing a young kid not ready into the highest level first is a recipe for ruining him long term.
My kids played club through midgets and we tried town hockey a handful of times over the years. Every year and every organization was the same. Coaches kid sucked, as did the coach, but spent half the game on the ice. Half the coaches can't skate and have never played a game in their lives. It is exhausting to watch and honestly isn't worth the time and effort. The clicky parent groups and townie coaches will wear you down. If you want to know who is making the "A" team just read the board member list as it will be their kids. Just go play club and if for nothing else get the better ice time. Town hockey gets hosed on ice times at most rinks.
I wish town hockey worked as it is the way things should be but unfortunately it is broken beyond repair.
Correct. The disenchantment with Town Hockey really started to gain momentum on the south Shore about 2005-06. So many parents had it with the Townies destroying the experience by placing the wrong kids on the A-B-C teams. I remember asking one of the board member parents "why don't we have an outside judge decided who makes which team." His answer - "you don't get it, do you." and then all the private teams started popping up. The parents got involved and corrupted the thing and basically killed it. Now Town is basically rec hockey for kids who want to try it out before checking starts.
One reason I think people do club over town is town ice times are not good. Unless you like taking a 45 min drive at 5am for a 6:10 am sat game for your little 6 year old. People pay for the better ice time, has nothing to do with how much their kid stinks or doesn't stink. Getting up at 5am with a kid is pure hell the rest of the weekend. My kids are in HS now and we did the club and town thing for one year. The ice times made it easy to decide screw town hockey.
I feel like town hockey has been 'dead' for a while. People seem to do it on the side. What are people upset about?
If your kid likes hockey, and you want them to play on even a decent high school team you need to get them into club. The sooner the better. Some of the decent D3 and D4 teams are all club kids never mind D1. This is the same for most other high school sports like soccer, basketball, baseball, lax, etc. The only sports left for kids who play strictly town to make varsity are football and track. Everything else is all Club kids. Maybe it’s not fair but it’s the way it is.
The biggest difference between kids who never play club vs. those that do, is generally speaking, the kids that have never played club (and are decent players), never reached a level in town where they can't skate around the other team.
This creates a massive problem for them when they get older and transition into late middle-school and into High School, the ice gets smaller, and creating time and space becomes more difficult.
They can't make that transition because they've never had to.
Club hockey when appropriately placed, teaches your player how to create time and space, essentially the most important piece of playing hockey.
Now, add to that the potential of more ice and better run practices, you can see why the spread grows between a player playing it vs. not playing it.
I will say there are many clubs around that are no better than town by way of overall talent. But at the end of the day if you add a good practice to a kid who loves it, they'll develop.