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Good discussion topic.
I waited until squirt major to switch over to club and what did it for me was the better coaching and the additional hour of practice/skills. I didn't care too much about elite vs. select/tier1 but was more interested in coaching and logistics. Town was great to a point. Our town has a pretty strong program and the town A team plays at a pretty high level. My son's improvement since switching over tells the story though. I don't think he'd be where he is now if he had stayed. He still plays on his middle school team and the gap between the kids in town and kid who now play club is pretty obvious. There are definitely a few lower level kids on his club team who aren't as strong as the kids who stayed on the town team and there are definitely some weak club teams out there but I think that if you kid is serious about the sport and wants to play at even a decent high school level you need to think about making the switch.
It's kind of like putting the Genie back into the bottle. It's a nice thought but it will never happen. Your quote "I don't understand what is happening" sums it up pretty well.
Now their are a few good Town Hockey teams and a caveat to this is many of their better players have come through many of the Select Hockey programs giving you a false image of what you are seeing. Furthermore, unless a Town team actually plays a Select Club you have very little to base your comparison upon. Through a relatively untrained eye they might look similar but beleive me at higher levels it's like comparing a top high school team to a USHL team. Night, meet day.
Most people will point to the better coaching the Select Clubs have; the increased focus on development rather than beating the rival town four times a year; the focus on skills and more ice time; better competition and so forth...all pretty much true but Townie guys love to argue the points and once in a while they have an exception but generally all of the things the Select people point out are GENERALLY true.
My kids have played hockey for years and without naming names or naming towns I been through a lot over the years. To me it really changed about 8-10 years ago. Our town had/has an absolutely strong Youth Hockey program and kids started leaving a few per year to the Select programs. The townie guys resisted and kept their kids in the program as more and more kids left. Fast forward to 3-4 years ago and our D-I high school team (with a very good history of success) was comprised of maybe 50/50 Town and Select players. It was chaos. The Town kids (I think their Midget teams were undefeated for 2-3 years playing other Town teams) had no idea how to play or how to keep up with the D-I high school competition; the Select kids had to slow their game and were hitting them with passes they couldn't catch and feeding them pucks to areas where they should have been.... and it was a mess. I think the team was sub-.500 for the first in decades. The high school coaching staff saw the difference and told the freshmen and JV players point-blank (via an email so it is not hearsay) to get out of Town Hockey immediately. The players left and the Midget Town program collapsed. A couple years later the high school team had one Town Hockey player on it (yes 1 town player on the third line), the play has improved and the team is back as one of the top teams in the state.
Once they started to move you had to leave.
"If all the so so Tier 1, Tier 2, select kids would just go back to town programs, the programs would be revitalized, parents could save some money and the private teams would truly become Elite."
OK so who wants to try this first? Who will you play?
The catch is town hockey like a lot of today's kid's athletics are just a nice place to try a sport and see if you like it and to see if you want to play in high school. If you want to make a varsity sport in a lot of towns you will need to get extra training and extra coaching to make it. It's the same in soccer, baseball, basketball....the list goes on-and-on. The dismantling of the "youth sports industrial complex" and the arms race that is now happening won't happen anytime soon. Heck we were a few weeks away from an economic depression being declared in 2008 and that had no effect on youth sports and the arms race within.
I couldn't agree with you more. I wish the "days gone by" would return.
Mr. we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again...
The old guys who usually get ahold of this with their old - "Back in the day we had town hockey and the old Boston Metro League and only a few kids were good enough to play in the Metro. (Insert 5-6 local kids who made it to the NHL in the 70's & 80's here) and everyone else played town." "Those were the days!"
Infact those good old days of the Boston Metro League were only about 10 years ago.
I am afraid you are looking at it from the wrong angle. All people needed was a little bit of motivation to move on.
A few years ago there were really only one reason to leave town:
The kid was so good, he needed to play at a higher level.
Then people wanted to start "Keeping up with the Joneses". As soon as the best player or two leaves town, the next best kid becomes the best and then he feels like he should leave.
This created a little bit of demand.
Demand creates and opportunity for supply which equals $ for club hockey owners.
Then this just spiraled out of control.
Towns got weaker, elite programs added select teams so they could cash 15 checks for the best 1-3 kids in a few towns that weren't quite good enough to play elite.
Then more clubs sprang up. That gave more supply and the demand caught up. Weaker players felt they could keep up with the Joneses and other people found any reason at all to leave town.
Ultimately, some teams with elite labels are no better than town teams. The one thing to understand, and why these teams exist, even if they are no better than town: Choice.
Here is an example. Say I have a town player that is decent not terrible, not great. Say I coach my son's team. Say I play in a big town. I have no say over who will be on my son's team. I can look and try to guess, or I can make a few phone calls, find a weak program looking for a low level select team....think EHF Tier 1 white or EMHL. I can grab my kid's teams 5 best players and my college buddy's kids 5 best players from the next town over.
Now we have the same level team, we have control on what kids and what families we spend the year with. We have a set schedule, we skate 2 nights per week plus skills.
I think this happens a lot. Coaching in town can be thankless, at least in club you get some say in the team you have. A good coach will convince those players to come.
the last 2 posters are dead on however don't compare the EHF Tier 1 White with the EMHL. what went wrong there was the split division. take the top 12 teams and send the rest to the EMHL, don't split. look at the 03 Tier 1 white kings. killing teams. They are better than bottom 4. killing teams. Same issue with the 02 division. Top 2 or 3 teams are better than bottom 4 black teams. first, town programs are WAY more political than club programs. sad. second, don't confuse "wins" with commitment and convenience. club sports at the 2nd level are about that. players committed to developing and set ice. you don't get that with town hockey. you get 1/2 teams skipping practice and daddy coaches who don't know how to and not allowed to coach. canada has had club hockey at varying levels for years because it's their way of life. no one bashes their model. club hockey bashers are the parents of the town player not able to make even the 3rd club team.
final point. this is the way of sports now. don't fight it. embrace it.
Not really, it's just that our town B team could probably beat the select (tier 1) teams that I looked at and the number of skates are the same per week: 2 practices, 1 skills and 1-2 games per week. Save the $950.
Name one single town program where kids consistently play through their entire youth years and actually have an impact at the high school game?
There are only a few public schools that matter. Maybe 5-6 at most. Hingham killed their town midget teams so they are all club kids. Others like Reading, Framingham, Winchester, Braintree....
I'd add: Franklin, Wilmington, Burlington and Woburn also...however going forward these top public schools that keep most of their kids will have next to zero kids that played just town only
Agree 1000% it's hard to go from recreational hockey to competitive hockey at 15-16 years old. The cows are outta the barn by then.
Add Arlington and Tewksbury
Kids do go from town A to public high school varsity hockey, happens all the time.
Oh sure they do but not at competitive D-1 schools. And if they do its to keep the bench warm for the playahs.
didn't know arlington and tuukasbury had hs hockey.
Reading. That's one town. Look up the kids who won the Super 8 in that town a few years back, going on a rampage against
Catholic schools in the tournament. Many played together since mites in town youth hockey. Just an example of a program that works.
Love the posters adamant their town Bs beat Tier 1s?
Save it, it's not going to happen ever again. The All-star teams the Catholics can put together using 25 kids from 17 different towns will not be topped by a public ever again. It was a cute tournament format but it's days are over.
Look at a town like Hingham that won the Super 8 in 2010 and last year they had one town hockey player on the third line and the rest of came out of various south shore programs.
Turn out the lights for town hockey at Squirts.
The Canadian rep system is much better
There is nothing wrong with playing on your top town team if it is a strong program but you should also supplement that with a club team even as an alternate, especially at squirt major and above.
Many on this thread are way off. My son has played town hockey (in a strong town hockey program )and EHF tier one (black) for several years. consistently his town team just doesn't have the practice time and commitment from the players on the team. The two teams / leagues could not be more different. His club team makes play after play, is more physical, plays like a team and the coaching is better. The town team can't execute a lot of simple basic plays consistently and they don't know how to move the puck.
Yes there are plenty of good kids that only play town, but it's hard to be ready of HS hockey playing town only. In my experience, there are 1-2 kids on most tier one teams that could play at the elite level.