In case you missed our Ask J Question and Response on Saturday, Melanie asked; Can you please tell me who are the top 30 ranking NCAA schools?
You can click here to read my response in: Ranking the NCAA
Today’s article is the second of a three part look at:
What would be the better route, Junior B or Major Midget (MML)? Part 2 of 3
3 – Resources
This issue is going to be entirely dependent on the local team in your area, be that Jr.B or MML. You need to know what kind of budget your potential team(s) is operating under and what affect that will have on your ice-time, skills development, exposure to scouts and competitiveness. This issue will affect almost ALL of the other areas that we are discussing in this article.
This is a good spot to cover overall cost as well. You are going to pay more for MML then you will for Junior B. No debate. And if you actually want to go on the road to see your son play, the price tag can get overly excessive and entirely prohibitive in short order. Now you would like to think that you get what you pay for, but once again, certain teams in either league provide better bang for your buck then other.Ice-time is the biggest issue in this section to look at. You will typically get 2 games per week in any league these days below the Junior A level. The important question is how many practices are you going to get? The issue of how good those practices are should be part of your decision making process in the coaches debate early.
There are Junior B and MML teams that sadly have had to settle for 1 practice a week, while other teams (Hello!!– NW Giants) get substantially more ice time and training then the majority of the competition. Let’s face it, ice-time costs money and it should be reflected in the fees you pay. For example, in the 2007-08 season the VW Hawks (I’m not picking on them honestly, but they give me so much material to work with) were reduced to only getting ONE practice per week for the majority of the first half of the season. They tried to make it up in ice-time in the second half, but the damage was already done especially when teams like the NW Giants were practicing 3-4 times a week regularly early on. How could your son compete in this scenario? The answer is – NOT very well… J’s Pick: Edge to Top Budget MML teams overall. Make sure you get what you pay for!!!
4 – Scouts & Exposure
This should be a no-brainer in favour of the MML. I’ve scouted many a league and you will see more scouts at an MML level league then you will at a Junior B level, hands down. With the amount of elite level WHL draft picks playing in the MML, there will be WHL, NCAA, NHL, BCHL, Junior B scouts and Agents in attendance nightly. I think if you are hoping for legitimate exposure to the higher levels, then you will get maximum sightings here over the Junior B route. If you are going to play on a top end MML team, you will play in the MAJOR midget tournaments and get international scouting exposure. Whereas, even if your Junior B team wins provincials or nationals, I doubt you’d get comparable high level exposure.
Now, in Kyle’s case, he had already had 1 year of exposure in the MML and was more concerned with impressing the WHL and BCHL scouts. The PIJHL route made more sense because he needed to prove himself against older, stronger and tougher opponents to establish that he could make the jump to the Junior A level. If he stayed in the MML for a second season, no matter how dominate he would be in the corners or in front of the net, there would naturally be questions about how that would translate against veteran players.
There is one overlooked fact to contemplate and that is when considering BCHL and other Tier II Junior A leagues exposure one must realize that they do NOT get out to as many games as they probably should during the season. While most have ‘regional’ scouts who keep them in the loop, those guys are typically unpaid or volunteers for budgetary reasons. More importantly time factors result in them (BCHL Head coaches/Assistant Coaches) not seeing enough first hand games DURING their own season because their schedules are very busy and they don’t often get out to see as many games as they would like to. This all means, that while you never know who is watching you, don’t get too carried away in the hype. Outside of the NHL, most professional leagues and most hockey leagues in general tend to rely on a lot of personal contacts or the opinion of the coaches in the very leagues that the players are playing. It’s a lot easier to call up the MML coach for a scouting report before committing scarce resources to multiple viewings of a player. Most professional teams outside the NHL, like the AHL, ECHL, CHL and Europe, sign 99% of their player’s sight unseen, relying on honest assessments from scouts, agents and coaches to sway their ultimate decisions.
J’s Pick: Edge to MML overall