Tuesday, November 23, 2010

2 Choice Rule: Why It Exists

A favorite topic of debate in youth hockey circles is the two choice rule.  If you will recall, the Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois (AHAI) restricts youth hockey players to playing for only two Tier II travel hockey clubs in their Mite through Bantam years.  A third choice can be applied for at the Midget level.  Once a player 'goes travel', a choice has been used.

The two choice rule was implemented in the 96-97 season, so the wave of Midgets now under the rule their entire youth hockey career forced the accommodation this season of a third choice.  Many grumble about this rule, including us, but it could be worse ...

The September 18, 2010 issue of Hockey Stop presented a history of the two choice rule in the Musings ... section.  What I gained from the article was that the predecessor of the rule was geographic districting.  Essentially, geographic districting required all hockey players living in a defined area to play for the hockey association that controlled that area.  If you recall the movie The Mighty Ducks, Adam Banks was forced to leave the elite Hawks PeeWee team to play for the protagonist Ducks, aka District 5, because of where he lived.

Thus, the two choice rule evolved as a vastly superior alternative to geographic districting or "the no choice rule".  While I will concede that this rule may have been a reasonable compromise for all stakeholders when it was established, it no longer serves the players well.  The third choice for Midgets illustrates this.  However, Midgets are not the sole source of tensions within the system.  Note that in the September 2010 AHAI Board minutes, 20 of 66 applications for a "choice back" were Midgets.  And those are just the cases that have an actual shot on appeal.

We will argue for a system that embraces the modern youth hockey marketplace in a follow up piece.


  1. I think it's a good rule in that in protects clubs. I hope that very few of the 66 get thier choice back. Do you know how many of them did?

  2. No, but that is an excellent question! I shall endeavor to get an answer to it.

  3. This rule dictates what a youth tier II hockey player can do. Why should anyone have this much power over children? There are already enough restrictions in place
    So a coach can’t stack his club or move his entire team if he(coach) changes clubs.
    If a coach changes clubs, any player that played for him the last season can NOT play for him the next. That player has to wait until the following season to play for that coach again.
    There is already a minimum on transfers/imports each year. 4 squirts, 6 peewees etc. So a coach can’t take his entire team if he changes clubs the next season. He then only has hi transfers/imports each season.

    A child can play for a club one season and have an awful experience and then go to the another club the next year and he only turned 10. Now he has made his 2nd choice and anything can happen at his second club. Maybe it all works out. Maybe he sees a better option to develop at another club when he 12. Now his hands are tied.
    I don’t know of any other youth sports program that has this much control of a child’s playing options.

    This looks to be all about control. There are already enough measures in place to stop a team from stacking players or depleting another club.