How did the purest sport on earth get so complicated and dirty? The simple answer is pure greed.
The current COVID-19 situation has turned the hockey world completely upside down, maybe now is the time to shake it up. There's never been a better time to do it.
You know what, maybe it’s also the perfect opportunity to take USA Hockey out of the regulation business entirely. I’m not talking about rules of the game, they have their hands full with that already, I’m referring to this entire Tier standards thing that nobody appears to care about anyway.
What about just letting the leagues deal with their own standards, protected lists, and expansion (or contraction). If a player wants to leave a team in one league for a team in another, he should be able to. Like any business, the best way to retain customers, or even employees, is to deliver on the promise of value and development. If leagues are left to their own peril, the non-sanctioned groups will continue to over-expand. Let them go ahead and weaken their own on-ice product.
USA Hockey should mandate one very important playing rule. A team is a minimum of fifteen skaters and two goalies. Failure to ice a proper team in two consecutive games has to result in immediate suspension of operations. That suspension should last for the remainder of the current season and the next.
The other requirement that USA Hockey should absolutely mandate is to force every sanctioned league to one of two true National Championships. The “A” level is for tuition-free leagues and those that feel they can compete at that level. “B” is everybody else.
Championship events don’t have to be elaborate round-robin tournaments; just send the league champions and let the bodies hit the floor. A four to eight team single elimination event that determines first through fourth or eighth place. Schedule this event in the same city and time as the Frozen Four every year to maximize exposure.
The “B” side should have to do the same thing. Enough with the “my league is better than your league” playground baloney, let’s just play hockey. Maybe this event should be in the same city, and also coincide, with the NCAA Division III National Championship.
Yes, these are common sense solutions that over-simplify the situation. Maybe that’s exactly what we need to get past all the garbage.
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