On the Topic Of Streaming Hockey Issues

If you didn’t follow my plight with HockeyTV on Friday night when trying to watch the Maryland Black Bears and New Jersey Titans; here’s a recap. The game was working fine for a bit, then buffering over time including skips in the game play and audio happened. Then the “Media couldn’t play because it was corrupt or your browser doesn’t support it” message happened. Then refreshing, checking other games, and submitting a ticket happened. At the end, I saw about two periods of the game, much of it dealing with buffering issues and HockeyTV seemingly was dumbfounded of the problem, saying it was probably an arena internet issue.

Here’s a slideshow.

Upon this, I’ve had other people telling me their stories of how HockeyTV wasn’t working for them all that well either, as well as talking about the cost of the service ($250 USD for the season) being too much for the lack of quality control being done during this issues. While the VP of Communications of the American Hockey League, Jason Chaimovitch saying they were in contact with the parent company and were addressing the problem. Whether it happened or not with the Black Bears, I don’t know. Though when I tuned into other games, they did seem stable, but at times with a buffer.

When I tried to watch the video-on-demand Saturday, the game played well through the first period; but then X gave it to me and the corrupt file message came up again.

I made sure to have the date and time at the bottom right there

Back in a former life, I was a producer for a streaming media company (RIP Broadcast Monsters) that put games on live and archived games when they were finished. One of the biggest things we had to deal with– outside of the “how do I listen” calls, was making sure the audio quality was solid so that people to listen and relisten to games. We would check and recheck to make sure the streams were running at top quality, which– for the early 2000s– was a task at times.

We wanted to make sure that fans of a team that couldn’t get to the game, but also family and friends of a player who is playing away from home could listen to the game and have good quality behind it. If we didn’t, we lost money because we were a smaller company and needed the support of these teams to pay bills and such.

And I can emphasize with the support team of HockeyTV, because I’ve been there once. It’s hard with people being upset their game isn’t working and you don’t have a solid answer– so you give the stock answers hoping that’s the resolution to the issue. Then you have to figure out an answer to the issue to suffice those around. It’s a thankless job.

Yet, when the problem has happened several times this season and you’ve been reassured two weeks ago that the issue was resolved at another venue…then it happens again– it’s not great for optics of a company. Sure, they have hundreds of games to deal with and pull in some bank doing this– but man, is it frustrating.

Now, I’m not just talking about me. It’s more about the family and friends of players who have moved away from their hometown to pursue a dream and all they want to do is watch them as they live it out. For them to go ahead and pay to see their child play and get nothing but tech headaches and sometimes a runaround about what’s wrong is frustrating at best.

Does this mean I hate HockeyTV?? Not really, I just feel they could do some things better and have a little more proactiveness and transparency when it comes to stuff like this, rather than brush it off and blame the users either at home or at the rink. Plus, since they’re the only option for NAHL and EHL games, it give me little choice if I want to follow the leagues and teams. They give stock answers or non-answers, which is frustrating, but with nowhere else to turn, you just sigh and deal with it, hoping it’ll get better next time you try. Like tonight’s game.

On the Topic Of Jersey Sales

The bane of existence for the sports merchandising industry– Fanatics— put out the highest selling jerseys for the 2018-19 season. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise when you look at who’s at the top of the list, but there are a couple of interesting trends when you look deeper into the whole thing.

Compared to last season, there’s some shuffling: Sidney Crosby went from second to first, Alex Ovechkin vaulted from sixth to second, while Auston Matthews fell from first to third. M-A Fleury held steady at fourth, while Henrik Lundqvist left the top-15 altogether. Connor McDavid went from fourth to 10th with playoff darling Jordan Binnington jumping up to the seventh spot on the year.

Now, Fanatics doesn’t break things down– which I’m shocked at since their apparel breaks down very quickly. There’s not a date range for it all if it’s the actual season or if it includes playoffs. One can assume that people rebought jerseys because the Fanatics stitching is horrific at best. Plus, it doesn’t mention if this is just Fanatics brand or if it includes Adidas authentic. Nor does it mention the sale of alternate jerseys at all– just the players.

The alternates are something to really put the Crosby clan over the top with the alternate yellow and Stadium Series black the Pens had this season, on top of the ASG jerseys that probably should have boosted more players on this list.

In any case, it’s always odd to me that the same players keep ending up on the top players list for jerseys. You’d think that it’d be a little more interchangeable with the amount of hot rookies that come through. The hype on them alone should drive sales. But, again, if Fanatics is only going on their personal sales– arena sales won’t count, nor will local shops. We’ll have to see if the Jack Hughes Effect will put a Devils’ jersey on the list next season.

On the Topic Of Da Beauty League

Photo via DaBeautyLeague.com

I don’t think I get Da Beauty League. And that’s fine.

A lot of it has to do with the name of the league, especially with the fact I don’t use the hockey lingo in an unironic fashion. Just like how people call the EA Sports NHL line “Chel.” The whole short-speak doesn’t really register with me…until I use it as goofs and then it works in way to my vernacular and I become the worst.

Overall, though, I guess I don’t get the idea of it. Granted, it’s a nice alternative than just guys doing dryland and private skates. It puts them in a game-type situation, but it seems like it would be a big risk of injury from some kind of freak accident that they’ll endanger their NHL contracts for a time to be in a rec league.

While it does fill the void for some people who are in the “live hockey 24/7” camp; it just seems like something that’s somewhat unnecessary. Call me “not a real fan” for not wanting to see pro players play rec hockey…but I also hate the All-Star Game, so at least my opinion of this sort of thing is consistent.

But, like I said– it does give guys variety in their summer workout, the league does get sponsorship, and it seems to appeal to a certain sector of people who can’t go three months without watching hockey in the summer. That’s fine, I get that– and you could call it supply-and-demand if these Minnesotans or other hockey fans travel up to pay to watch these guys play in a rec setting. And there is a charity element to this, which is very awesome and should be at the upfront of this, but I’m not a marketing wizard– so I don’t make these moves. Hell– they even win a keg named after John Scott as a championship. Such a hockey bro thing to do. And that’s fine.

Maybe it’s a part of me getting older, maybe it’s watching too much hockey during the season that burns me out for the off-season, maybe it’s looking back at how I was when I was in that 24/7 mindset and shut off other things trying to get people to tune into hockey– which may or may not have made them tune out due to annoyance factor. Hell, it could just me not being their demographic. I just don’t understand that whole lifestyle thing anymore since I don’t play at a competitive level (or at all) anymore. And that’s fine.

Good on them for doing it and give some segment something to get excited about during the summer…but I guess it’s not for me. And that’s fine. Because things don’t have to be for everyone. Just don’t be an asshole about it on either side of the fence.

On the Topic Of Second-Screen Viewing

As the St. Louis Blues closed out their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, the NBC machine rolled on with all the stock lines that Mike Emrick has compiled through his years of broadcast and recycle them for this moment. Pierre McGuire talked to a player and told him to have fun. Eddie Olczyk was probably looking at the race form for the track tomorrow. Then when their NBC slotted time was up, they all left and let the NBCSN crew take it from there.

That’s when I thought…why are they just now getting a bigger chance on the biggest stage for their sport?? It seems like they had to be put in some position post-game to warrant getting shipped out there and all of that. There’s times in Jeremy Roenick’s interviewing that you prayed for Pierre to come back and talk to these guys– because he knows how to and JR really doesn’t.

It also makes me wonder if there’s a chance that NBC and NBCSN can team up for possible clinching games to have a two-screen experience and an alternate to their regular coverage that people would want to see. Granted, that would maybe hurt ratings by splitting them, but ratings are in actuality a scheme created by boxing and wrestling to make something bigger than it actually is and in the end– it means nothing. I mean, hell– NBCSN was showing tape-delayed Monster Jam episodes which, I’m sure has an audience, but they’ll still be watching at midnight and beyond for that stuff or during one of the many replays they’ll have.

The second-screen thing for a championship has been done before by NBC and NBCSN for NASCAR’s final race of the year in Homestead. The main network had the usual race broadcast with the regular broadcasting crew, whereas NBCSN had the in-car cameras for each of the Championship 4 contenders, more in-car audio, and alternate commentators to give another side of the spectrum.

Granted, the two sports are different animals, but you have to look at the possibility of alternate camera work, alternate broadcasters, or even a possible “Watch Along” thing where there’s people brought in to comment over the game, as if you were in a bar setting. It’s something that maybe by that time– people are sick of Doc, Eddie, and Pierre, maybe people would like a different take, maybe people want another option, and– like me– maybe people cut the cord and have a crappy antenna and live in the middle of nowhere so they can’t get local channels unless they get YouTube TV….or something.

Yet, what better way to create a buzz for your broadcast than to have different viewing options for the biggest games?? Sportsnet has like 190 different channels that they could do the same thing with different people. There’s plenty of talking heads that can be there to fill the void of the dead spaces, so what’s the issue with having an alternative to the original?? Some people may like the traditional way better, whereas you could hook some new people onto the alternate voices, as well. Variety can be good and having options is great, too. Couldn’t hurt to try.

On the Topic Of the Wild and Jason Zucker

You’ve got to feel bad for Jason Zucker. First, he was on his way to Calgary before the deal fell through at the last second. Now, he’s the center of deals that didn’t happen and aren’t going to happen. It seems that Zucker is the new guy perpetually on the trade block until someone actually feels the need to have Zucker on their roster.

According to Michael Russo of The Athletic, Zucker’s name was in the middle of trade proposals for Phil Kessel, Sam Bennett, Michael Frolik, Christian Dvorak, Jonathan Marchessault, and Brock Boeser. The first and last being very laughable that they would have been considered with reports saying Vancouver laughed at Paul Fenton and hung up the phone.

Look, Zucker is a solid player with three-straight 20-goal seasons– but you can’t think he’d be an equal return for the likes of Boeser and Kessel especially. And maybe, it’s the system that he’s in that’s not really bringing the best out of him like when he was a Denver University or playing with the US Development Program. That said, it’s less a Zucker issue and more of an issue of what is wrong as a whole with the Wild.

It’s almost as if they need to blow the team completely up from top to bottom and start fresh. It’s not a new coach or new GM situation– that’s been done and the team still seems to be spinning their wheels; a deadly happening for a team in the Central Division. Paul Fenton needs to make moves, but trying to attract any kind of big name players are futile because those players don’t want to go there because of the lack of playmakers around them– as was the reported case with Kessel vetoing the deal to Minnesota.

This is a team that, for some reason, doesn’t move forward. Since that gonzo run in 2003, they’ve made it to the playoffs eight times in the last 15 seasons and have only made it out of the first round twice to lose to the Blackhawks both times. With their core getting older, you have to wonder how many chances Jordan Greenway and Luke Kunin will be given in a bigger role and how much they’ll be able to step up in that role. There’s plenty of potential in both of them, don’t get me wrong, but will they be able to thrive in the Wild system and given a chance to show off their style of play.

For someone like Zucker, you have to wonder how much this is going to affect his psyche and what he might do in the future with this team. He’s a professional and probably gets that this game is a business, thus why he protected his own by getting a modified no-trade in his contract for ten teams NOT to be traded to and this could be Fenton doing his due-diligence to see what they could get…but he’s taking the whole “you never know if you don’t ask” credo too far. This could be another Matt Duchene in Colorado situation for Zucker and the Wild– which, if true, could be damning for the Wild and extremely positive for Zucker.

On the Topic Of Parity, Marketing, and Bitterness of the NHL Playoffs

The other day, a writer for The Athletic tweeted something “edgy” about the comparison about the NHL and NBA playoffs. It’s often something that circles the wagon of hockey fans to unite in saying how much better hockey is than basketball. To which NBA fans couldn’t care less because they are focused on their playoffs because they don’t have a chip on their shoulder about their sport’s standing in the US.

Ah, yes– the great parity debate and the great “playoff system is broken” rallying cry. Look, I’ve gone over the playoff system before and it’s not great, but it’s the best we’ve got since people wanted more rivalries. In the new system, the only match-up that would have been changed is the Bruins would face the Penguins and the Islanders would have the Maple Leafs. For what it’s worth, the Eastern and Western Conferences would have had the same match-ups in the second round with re-seeding.

Shocking. Something doesn’t go Toronto’s way and people kick up a giant fuss. To counter that– because it seems he heard a lot of that– he tweeted this.

To which, another user had a reply to him to counterpoint this writer:

You cannot compare the two playoffs– so doing such is stupid. The NBA has clear winners and losers in their game. There’s no point for an overtime loss– it’s just a loss and no ground gained for the losing team. Hockey’s one point for extra time loss. Why even have the loser point anymore?? Just have a straight loss and that’s that. No incentive for losing, actually play to win the damn game.

More over…isn’t parity something that people love about hockey…hell, love about sports?? Are Toronto media and fans– OF ALL PEOPLE– tired of parity happening and other teams in maybe non-traditional markets actually getting some kind of success at the expense of them?? It’s a helluva thing, isn’t it??

Yet, there’s a much better thing that people are missing from the amount of parity that happens in the league and that’s the casual fan being lost during playoff parity. Look, I won’t lie– I go back and forth when it comes to parity in hockey all the time. As much as I like the idea long-shot story being a thing…it does hurt the casual fan base in the US and thus, the ratings– which is really what people look at when it comes to judging the popularity of a sport. Losing the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, PK Subban, and to a lesser extent (not a short joke) Johnny Gaudreau– they are names that are somewhat recognizable to the casual hockey viewer.

Of course, that then falls on the NHL, NBC, and the marketing of them both. NBC wants ratings, so they’ll go with teams that have a bigger following nationally– rightly or wrongly. When you hang your hat on those teams, you leave a lot of room for error and a lot of room for people missing out on teams that should be profiled later on in the season. The NHL wants to put out their superstars– so the Caps and Pens are thrown out on national broadcast ad nauseum.

It’s really up to the NHL’s marketing department to work with NBC to make people care about players in Carolina and Dallas and Colorado and the other markets who are underserved. There’s no conceivable reason that every team cannot be the focus of some of these Wednesday Night Hockey deals that NBCSN has. Hell, the NBC afternoon games would be great for the teams out west with an afternoon eastern start time.

So, how did this start as a self-righteous Toronto writer comparing the remaining seeds of the NHL and NBA to the marketing of the NHL and NBC need to be better?? I don’t know. Things just work that way. The point is the NHL needs to be better for their teams so that when some of these teams goes on a “shocking playoff run,” it won’t matter that some of the top names are out because the NHL and NBC would be profiling stars across the league by showing their games rather than just mentioning them in passing during the season in highlight packages.

On the Topic Of Training Camp and Prospects

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Training Camps are when hope springs eternal for some teams. Other teams it’s just a chance to see how good a team will be two or three or more years down the line. However, the idea that there are people who are actually “fighting” for a spot on the team is a bit of a misnomer. Sure, there’s going to be pressure on some guys, but by in large, the depth charts are pretty set.

Not only that, but it’s very odd hockey where it’s much like spring training where there’s split squads and some fans go overboard with the results– both positively and negatively. It often gets annoying and makes me want to speed up to opening night to make the idea of “position battles” go away for another year.

The thing that irks me the most is keeping the kids who have junior eligibility in the camp far longer than they should be. In all honesty, the only time a player with junior eligibility should be at an NHL camp is when it’s the prospects camp early in the summer. The NHL really should look at an “exceptional player” rule to allow some of these junior players the chance to make the team out of camp, but it would also allow the other ones who really don’t have a chance the ability to train and then play for their junior team because their seasons start earlier than the NHL’s.

It just seems a bit silly to have over sixty players in a camp when they’re going to send 15-20 home on their first few days, a majority of them going back to their junior team. I understand that technically those players are the property of the NHL teams, but does it really do them any good to have that short of an experience and miss some time with the team they’re going to spend the majority of the season with?? It’s almost the same as my disdain for keeping players up for nine games when they know they aren’t going to play there for the entirety of the season.

The idea of raising the draft age is a smart one. Even if it’s just a year, it’ll allow the player to mature more in juniors, which would do them a world of good. When you look at the amount of players who are going the NCAA route, it just shows that if you raise the age or not, those players aren’t going to be jumping into The Show right away; which is maybe what teams want with some of the contracts that they give to players being a placeholder for the prospects spot.

Maybe I’m just not into the training camp hype. One player does amazing against junior or AAAA-level talent and then people wonder why he’s a bust during the year when playing against actual pro level talent. Let the kids be kids in the junior area or the NCAA area. They don’t need to be jumped into the league when you not only lack the room for them, but also could destroy their confidence down the rode for being pushed ahead too early.

On the Topic Of European/North American Hockey Relations

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Photo from @OntarioReign

Did you know that there as an international friendly that happened on Tuesday in Ontario?? More likely not, as there wasn’t much pomp and circumstance on the grand scheme of things, but the Ontario Reign took on Eisbaren Berlin on Tuesday, with Ontario cruising to a 6-3 win in front of  over 8,700 fans– according to the Ontario Reign.

Looking at the highlights from their Twitter, the Berlin fans who were in attendance really made it for a European feel of chanting and constant energy throughout the game. However, it didn’t seem to get much of a ground swell outside of the Ontario and Berlin community. Hell, this is the first time since 2014 when Farjestad took on the AHL All-Stars and then the Toronto Marlies that international teams took on North American teams during the regular season– as far as I know, that is.

There’s something to be said about the idea of international teams coming to North America to play against AHL teams, something more to be said when it has to deal with the AHL squads beating those international teams. Sure, the teams coming over may not bring their best line-up, especially since those teams are also in season. However– wouldn’t it be something to see more of these international friendlies and actually have them promoted by outside media sources in order to garner a little more appeal?? Of course it would, we all love hockey and getting to know more teams outside of the North American bubble would be a nice change of pace for some people.

When it comes to something like this, there’s two ways to go about it. First, get more teams active in forming a sister cities approach to international teams. Have each AHL or ECHL team adopt a European team and keep track that way. While it would be much harder to get the ECHL team to agree to it since they often have players defect to Europe to play, the idea could be there for the AHL by the parent organizations to almost compare ideas of coaching and playing styles and all that fun crap. It may be a hard-sell, but something that could be done. Ontario and Berlin came together if only because The Anschutz Group owns both teams.

The second way to go about it is to find a way to have more international tournaments for the minor league teams to participate in. While the Spengler Cup is a tournament that once in a blue moon invites AHL teams to their party (mainly the Rochester Americans), there needs to be more ideas.

One could be the idea of putting the Calder Cup champions in the Champions Hockey League. Yes, it could create havoc on scheduling, but to have a North American representation would be a big boost for the North American game and get people more invested in the European side of things. But, like I said, the schedule in Europe allows a lot more leeway for the teams to play in their country league and the Champions’ league– so many North American leagues would be pretty hard pressed to have involvement, but at the same time– one can dream about it.

There’s untapped potential when it comes to having European teams come over to North America more frequently and vice versa. The hardest point is to actually find a way to make it happen logistically and not just force down people’s throat like an outdoor game we’ve seen time and time again. You need to have it frequent enough to make people want to see it, but infrequent enough that you don’t over-saturate the marketplace.

Sadly, hockey marketing teams everywhere have yet to figure out that balance. So it goes. The dream is alive, but sleep hard before it becomes a reality.

On the Topic Of the Samsonov Situation

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When the news came out that Capitals GM Brian MacLellan went over to Russia to speak with Ilya Samsonov, it did create a bit of a buzz. With current back-up goalie Philipp Grubauer being a pending restricted free agent and Samsonov being in the last year of his deal in the KHL, there’s some people were wonder if Grubauer could be traded if there’s a deal pending for the former 1st round pick in Samsonov.

Yet, let’s not go overboard just yet with this, folks.

One of the reasons to go over for MacLellan is to do his due diligence on Samsonov. They used a high pick on him and he hasn’t come over to North America with the exceptions of the prospect camps the Caps hold every year. To go over and gauge the interest in Samsonov’s readiness to come to North America after his contract is up at the end of this season is a responsible move and one GMBM needed to do in order to plan on what to do with his goaltending depth.

The idea of trading Grubauer is out there, but don’t expect it to happen during the season this year. While the market for back-up goalies is high, the need for a playoff team to have a proven commodity in net is always something a successful team needs to have in order to go far. With the Caps in the thick of it in the Metro and Wild Card race, to have someone like Pheonix Copley or Vitek Vanecek back-up Braden Holtby in net would be quite the risk just to trade Grubauer while his value is a bit higher than usual.

With reports saying that Samsonov and the Caps are close to having a verbal agreement (as they can’t sign anything until April 30th), the question is where is going to fit in with their depth in net. There’s going to be many who say that he should back-up Holtby– and there’s a solid chance he could do that. However, there’s also a chance that he’s shaky in his first camp and he could be moved to Hershey to get more tuned up with the North American game. You’d also have to wonder how Copley and Vanecek would react since both have put in time in the minors and in the Caps system only to have a hot-shot kid come in and take a spot that could have been them.

That said– goalie union, players being team guys, all that sort will be talked about if those two get passed over and take it in stride…as much as they can after getting beaten out of a spot.

Of course, as much as Samsonov says he’d want to play in the NHL (or even the AHL), there’s a bigger chance he does something like Evgeny Kuznetsov did and make his money in Russia while he can before coming to North America and dealing with the NHL entry-level contract stuff. Especially with the amount of money to be made if Magnitogorsk were to win the KHL title back-to-back this season. The only possible help for the Caps is that Igor Larionov is the agent for Samsonov, so he could lean more towards Samsonov getting to North America sooner than later and deal with the depth chart stuff as it comes.

At the end of the day, Grubauer shouldn’t (and probably won’t) be traded in-season unless the Caps get a solid return AND have unanimous fate in Copley or Vanecek, while Samsonov isn’t going to be coming to North America until next training camp at the earliest if he signs. Best to just focus on how the Caps can maybe break away from the rest of the Metro field to give their fans some easy breathing moments before the playoff heart attacks.

On the Topic Of Changing the Draft Rules

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On this week’s Face Off Hockey Show, we debuted our new Patreon Pick segment where contributors of our Patreon who hit the donation tier picked a subject we would go long-form on. This week, one of the selections was the return to Major Juniors to two big names in the start of the season for their teams.

Kailer Yamamoto was sent from the Oilers back to Spokane, while Owen Tippett was moved from the Panthers to Mississauga. These two made enough of an impression to make the team out of camp, but due to their youth, inexperience, and the loopholes of an entry-level contract, they were allowed the ability to go back to Major Junior and grow more there.

This sparked a questions from our own Marc “with a ‘C'” who wondered if there was a way for players to lose their eligibility once they declare for the draft, which would also lead to the building of a new minor league system in that aspect. While I think this is something that could be an interesting test, I don’t know how much it could work in practice.

By in large, the NHL (and hockey in general) is very odd when it comes to the set-up of their draft, in that the rights of the player is held even if he’s not in their organization– like Junior and College players. For Major Junior players, they have two years to get signed or else they go back into the draft, however– if they sign a deal– they can play up to nine games before their first year is burnt up in their contract. For college players, they have all four years to decide if they want to stay or go. Yet we have seen in situations like Will Butcher, Jimmy Vesey, and Corban Knight where the college guys pick their poison once they get out of college and don’t have to sign with the team that drafted them– which is almost a waste of a spot for those teams that did pick them.

In other drafts, players have to declare and then lose their amateur rights when they sign a professional deal. Also, the NBA makes players aren’t eligible until a full year after their last high school year (though that may change), NFL is three years after your last high school year, while MLB is odd in that they draft players— but if the player steps into a college classroom, their rights are immediate withdrawn (see point 5 on that link). However, MLB has such a deep area of minor leagues that it’s not something hockey as a whole could take on unless they wanted to really, really shrink the size of each minor league. My belief is that minor league hockey “heads of state” are too bull-headed into doing something like that because for some reason they feel that a league has to have a 31-31-31 situations rather than what baseball has where the minor leagues are spread out.

Not only that, but it’s not as if hockey has the development situations the other sports have, since high school kids are in Major Juniors at 16 and don’t develop through an actual school team, but by a team within a leagues that is pulling in multi-million dollars a year. Those Major Junior leagues are run like a pro league, without having to pay the pro prices for players– but that’s another story for another time and another writer who has better knowledge on the inner workings of that kind of hockey.

So, what do you do to help the development so that 18-year-olds aren’t rushed in when they are not ready to do so?? The one thing people keep coming back to is raising the draft age to 19 or 20 years old, which is what the NBA did a couple years back.

It only makes sense to raise the age. The maturity of the player will be able to show through more, the player would get even more time in their development, and the teams won’t be playing roulette all that much because you’d be able to see a kid three-years into his playing cycle and maybe get some trends on how he plays. Of course, this is only for Major Juniors.

The college side is a little different. Players can get drafted by NHL teams and still play college because they have “advisors” which, according to the NCAA, aren’t agents and still allows the student-athlete to keep their amateur status and NCAA eligibility. It goes with the weird NHL thing where the kid isn’t property of the team until they sign a pro contract, but their rights are held for “x” amount of time until they decide to sign or wait it out to be a free agent. A great cheat sheet about the CBA and NCAA and Draft Rules is right here.

Personally, I don’t think it’s fair for a kid to have to lose their eligibility to play in college or major junior if they get drafted in the NHL, I also think the system is broken in that the whole “rights” ideal is something that is really antiquated. When you look at it, raising the draft age would fall in line with the age limits that the AHL has, where a player who is drafted out of Major Junior and still has eligibility has to be 20-years-old to play in the league– which would mean that they would be done with their Major Junior eligibility just as they’re ready to go to the next level. That makes sense.

However, if you actually want to put stock into the player and have their lose eligibility if they declare early– the need would be to totally revamp the minor league hockey system as we see it. How do you do that?? I’ll bring about that idea tomorrow.