If you want to play Junior hockey and beyond, there's one major thing you need to know, which will tell you all about what Junior Hockey teams need.
High-end Junior hockey is a business.
College hockey is a business to an extent. Pro hockey is certainly a business.
Understanding that teams are businesses at this level should give you some insight. No longer are you entitled to equal playing time as you see at youth levels (although many U16, U18 programs have a #1 goalie and a backup, so not really even anyway).
It can be cutthroat. And if you want to make it at higher levels, you must know what to expect going in. You must know what teams need.
It's pretty simple, actually. Teams need 2 things:
1. To Win
2. To Promote players to higher levels
I'll break these down a little further.
1. Teams need to Win.
Remember, these teams are all businesses, right? How do their businesses operate and make money? By acquiring fans and putting butts in seats. By selling tickets, sponsorships, and merchandise to their following.
You know this already. Fans follow winning teams much more passionately and closely than losing teams.
So a Junior team trying to make it and compete year to year requires them finding the BEST talent available within their league rules.
Winning is the priority. Because winning brings fans, and fans bring business.
Teams will take those players who give them the best chance to compete and win. It's not personal, it's business.
And for the players who participate in this system, the payoff is clear: the opportunity to play at a higher level (NCAA, Pro).
Which leads me into #2.
2. Teams need to prove promotion.
In order to attract top talent year after year, teams in Juniors and College and even minor-pro need to prove that they are a destination that will help the player move on and up.
Top players want to go to teams that continually move their players on. It means the organization puts a premium on player development and the newly created vacancies year after year mean that new opportunities are frequently available.
Think about it. Would you rather play for a team with 14 Division I NCAA commits? Or a team with 4?
Which one do you think will be a better team long-term? What does it say about the team if they're able to attract 14 potential D1 players in the first place?
It means they're a team you want to play for...but also that everyone else also wants to play for them.
So how do you get in?
By providing the most value and proving that you'll bring the team more wins or more chances to win.
By proving that you are a "promotable" player or goalie. That means that you have qualities that higher levels look for.
This is where you need to take a hard look at yourself and evaluate where you're at.
Junior teams need WINS and need to prove PROMOTION.
How do you fit in that equation?
Call or text me to talk more. Also, check out our Prospects Showcase if you're interested in North American opportunities.
Stay frosty, friends.