I found these press releases off team websites, twitter accounts, blogs or online. All Vipers news-trades are posted on this blog as soon as released-announced.
BCHL News & Trades:
Warriors Make Coaching Change:
The West Kelowna Warriors are pleased to announce the signing of Brandon West as the new Head Coach and General Manager of the hockey club. “Brandon is an experienced BCHL head coach who is fully capable of putting together a first class program.” club owner and President Kim Dobranski stated. “The interior division is a tough division and I cannot think of anyone better suited to the task. As we head into the playoffs I am confident Brandon can create a formula for success and take our team deep into the playoffs and beyond. Brandon will also be taking the lead in our U18/U16/U15 prospects program, designed to identify futures for the club.” Dobranski goes on to say “I would like to thank Geoff Grimwood for his contribution to our club and wish him much success in his future endeavors.” “I would like to thank Kim Dobranski for this opportunity to be the named Head Coach/General Manager of the West Kelowna Warriors.” commented West. “It is an honour to be back in West Kelowna and work with this elite crop of players. I am excited to get started and look forward to being a part of this great community”. The Warriors are headed to Surrey this Wednesday to take on the Eagles then back to the interior for a home and home series against Salmon Arm starting this Friday in Salmon Arm. Warriors are back home to Royal Lepage Saturday Feb 2nd to host the Silverbacks. Puck drop is at 7:00 pm.
Drug Free? Prove It
The National Hockey League does it. College hockey does it. The International Olympic Committee is famous for it. So why is mandatory drug testing all but the forbidden subject for junior programs across the continent? The NCAA spends an incredible amount of time and resources to keep athletic programs in compliance with their drug policy. Many states also have implemented mandatory testing programs for their high school athletes. A glaring hole, within hockey's developmental system, is the lack of a drug testing policy at the junior level of play. A source within one NCAA Div I program proclaims the issue to be more serious than expected. "The junior programs really don't want to know, avoiding the issue all together is just their way of not wanting to admit there could be a problem," the source commented. "Boys will be boys, you pile eight to ten players into a unsupervised house and they are going to test the limits, casual drug use is common in a lot of these situations." What league is going to step out on a wire and be the first to proclaim they only showcase players that are clinically proven to be drug free? "Legally, I don't know what the ramifications would be from such a program," said Western States Hockey League Commissioner Ron White. "I think the initiative would have to come from a governing body like USA Hockey, AAU, or even the United States Olympic Committee. Those guys have the budgets to be able to defend the policy against a lawsuit." White added. It may just take a grassroots movement to get that ball rolling. Would the players, or their parents, be in support of the program? 90% of the players and parents would support such a measure. In reality, I feel that most parents would be more inclined to send their young prospects to a program that is clinically proven to be drug-free. "I think some of the leagues already do something, the problem is that many players are still minors, and that causes some problems," says former USA Hockey Junior Council chairman Dan Esdale. "The way that society has changed, I am afraid that maybe something like a drug testing program may be needed, and I wouldn't be opposed to it," Esdale added. There are some teams that have moved forward with their own testing programs and have taken measures to have the right to impose testing programs for their teams. An NAHL team owner was once forced to deal with a problem within his own program. "The billet parents informed us of a situation with a player. Dealing with that was the toughest decision I had to make as a team owner. Do I cut the player or do I give him the motivation and resources to help him get clean?" We made a choice to help him and he got better." Junior hockey needs to get with the program. If high school and college players are being tested, why in the heck are junior players not? New York Aviators' head coach Mike Stanaway has an interesting position on the subject. "I am in favor of drug testing players. As a coaching staff, we want to see our players make the right choices both for their personal success and collectively as a team. With that being said, we cannot be around the players 100% of the time. I feel that when players know they are subject to drug testing, they will consider the consequences of their actions more seriously. Players at this level are at a very influential age and if testing helps keep them on the right path, then I am all for it." Higher level leagues should be taking the lead by implementing their own mandatory testing programs. Doing so would go a long ways towards the rest of junior hockey following that example.
Remove Import Restrictions?
With an excess of 300 junior hockey teams across the continent, is there any reason to keep import restrictions in the rule books? That's the question many struggling junior operators are asking themselves this season. It has always been my opinion that the restriction hinders real development all along. Higher levels of competition fuels improvement. No other sport restricts the number of non-citizens on a roster, so why just hockey? Are such restrictions even legal? All right, you can stop laughing now. I know, there are a lot of things about junior hockey that should be illegal, but that's an entirely different Daily Dish. The wheels turn slowly in Colorado Springs but I have to give past Junior Council Chairman John Vanbiesbrouck credit for initiating major changes for USA Hockey's junior program. To date, I've not seen the same level of leadership since his departure. Considering all the league (and team) defections to leagues outside the jurisdiction of USA Hockey, maybe it's time for USA Hockey to address the idea of simply striking the import restriction rules from the book in an effort to bring some of these groups back in. It is my opinion that removing the restriction entirely would ease the pressure off the entire system in the short term by allowing even more international prospects to play. With the USPHL and AAU already in that mode, doing so will have a dramatic effect on the USA Hockey group's level of play in the following season and beyond. It's about time.
HAVE EMPTY SEATS? THIS IS A WAY TO FILL THEM:
Every junior hockey team in North America would like to create a larger demand for their product. Below is a concept that not only stuffs the empty seats, but also gives the players a huge sense of responsibility. As a parent I know the purchasing power of my children, I also know how much I would appreciate that a young hockey player takes the time to give back to our community, and children, as a school volunteer. A prospects in schools program is an excellent way for clubs to generate community interest in the team. There are a lot of potential supporters out there that are not typically a hockey fan. Let's face it, finding quality entertainment for the family is not an easy task. Taking the crew to a hockey game, to see a player that the child knows from school, could be a nice diversion that does not take a huge bite out of the wallet. Getting Started. The first person needed is a volunteer program coordinator. A huge advantage would be to find a teacher to manage the program. This person could be the single most important volunteer on your staff, especially if this program is properly implemented. Identify the number of players on the team's roster that could be available on Mondays. For this example, we are going to say fifteen. Next, identify the fifteen closest public elementary schools, with standard enrollment numbers, that are closest to the team's home venue. Generally, Mondays are great for this program because it give parents the week to plan for the team's weekend game. As a school volunteer, your players will float from classroom to classroom or help with the physical education programs. The point is to get the maximum exposure and interaction out of each school visit. The player should be at his school when the buses roll in until the last child goes home. Parents will take notice of the young man, especially if he is working with their children every Monday. Even more importantly, if the children are talking about the positive interaction they are having with your player. Players are to always be dressed in team apparel. Always be clean cut and shaven, and always remember that they not only represent the team, but also the game itself. The impressions made here, can have a lifelong impact on these kids. Make the most of it. Done right, and done consistently, the result of the program could be tremendous. Imagine if just one in ten children manage to drag mom and dad to the games. Typical enrollment at elementary schools is over 250, so we will use that number, meaning 375 more families a game from just fifteen schools. Youth hockey programs, hockey experience camps, and even group field trips are all by-products of this program. Pick one game each season that can be played on a school day. Work with the program coordinator to help identify a date that could work within the school calendar. The coordinator will also need the help of the school districts in order to facilitate and manage the event. A common theme is drug awareness and the need to choose a healthy lifestyle. The players, coaching staff, and community leaders are all to participate in pre and post-game activities. This type of event happens all over the country and can easily translate into a huge number of new supporters for the team. This is a proven system that will fill empty seats while enhancing the character of players.
Just Say No to 4th Liners:
The goals of junior hockey are to promote, develop, and administer the domestic USA Hockey program for junior-aged players, teams and leagues. The above is the stated purpose of junior hockey in the United States. Let's ask the game's fourth-liners, healthy scratches, and third goalies how much promotion and development they are experiencing. Hockey purest often are heard whining that the the junior level has over expanded, that the leagues are killing the game. I don't agree. Let's use the number 23 as the current size of each roster. After multiplying that number times the current 22 teams we end up with 506 players. If roster sizes were reduced to 19, there would be enough players to roster another four NAHL teams. The USHL could easily add another teams as well. There are a number of economic advantages to this concept as well. The bus costs are the same, but equipment, hotel and meal expenses are easily reduced by 20% of more. Roster deadline dates would have to be adjusted and the restriction of movement between the top two tiers would have to be eliminated. The developmental advantages far exceed the logistical headaches of moving players from team to team. Educational concerns are understandable. Undergraduates should not be moved unless it is within a structure that does not require a school transfer. Players taking college classes should restrict their class-schedule to online courses only. The same roster size concept should also be applied to the Tier III level as well. I have to believe that parents are going to be more than willing to shell out more money if it means little Johnny is really going to play. Water will always find its own path and junior hockey should do the same thing. We need to stop blowing smoke up these player's backside and let them play.