Blog: The End of the USA Hockey Monopoly? - Chicago Area Youth Hockey


This blog is dedicated to the discussion of youth hockey organizations, leagues, tournaments, and players in the Chicago area.



Monday, May 23, 2011

Blog: The End of the USA Hockey Monopoly?

In a new article, Joseph Kolodziej of speculates on the impact of a negative ruling for USA Hockey and its affiliates in the Minnesota Made lawsuit. Although his perspective is primarily the junior hockey angle, Mr. Kolodziej touches on a couple of areas of interest to youth hockey.

[sic] we could see the end of anyone using the term, outlaw, for any team outside of USAH. This could force USAH to accept the membership of any person, player, team, or league wishing to join without being able to tell those groups how or where to operate.
Talk about an amazing proposition! This really could become a landmark decision for all amateur hockey in the country. A Federal Court decision, particularly if published, is in effect the clarification of specific intent of the law as it relates to a particular situation. Such a ruling would be applicable in every state in the country, effectively limiting or completely restricting the ability of USAH affiliates to restrict growth of junior hockey.

This would actually restrict the power of USAH because it counts on its affiliates to enforce their rules, opinions, and policy. With these restrictions, USAH would have to become much more of an inclusive operation when it comes to junior hockey development, and they could not effectively bar any person willing to risk their finances from setting up shop where ever they wanted.
Some may say that this opens the door for AAU to come in and set up shop all over the country. This is one possible by-product, but it is not the only one.

 And more on AAU:
Now another battle line has been drawn outside of this particular suit. AAU has set up shop for ice hockey in Michigan. They are starting with cross ice, and the younger age groups. It will only take a trickle of players signing up to create a waterfall of trouble for MAHA.
Why is this a big deal? Refer back to the anti-trust laws above, and the MAHA rule. Michigan and Minnesota are two of the largest hockey states in the country, anyone thinking that rulings and actions taken in these two states wont effect the rest of the country had better get their head examined.

If you are not familiar with AAU, or Amateur Athletic Union, the organization is principally known for basketball.  Many view the AAU's so-called "shoe camps", or basketball camps and tournaments sponsored by Nike or Addidas, as a negative development in in high school and college basketball as well as youth sports in general.  You can find the site for AAU ice hockey in Michigan here.

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  1. America is based upon the free market system. This is how business is run. USA Hockey isn't. Competion is good. I hope that the suit against MAHA hockey is succesfull. I also hope that many leagues make the jump to AAU. USA hockey and AAU are no more than insurance agency's. AAU product is both cheaper and better than USA Hockey. If this is succesfull the trickel down affect will get to AHAI. Wouldn't it be nice to kill off the good old boy's network which denies better kids the oppurtunity to advace? Great for the little guy!!!!!!!!!!

  2. No Anonymous, you've got one thing very wrong. They are not both just insurance companies. But the ARE both membership organizations. USA Hockey is charged by the US Olympic Committee, as the National Governing Body for Ice Hockey in the United States, with growing and supporting the sport, developing players and winning medals on the international stage. I'm not sure what exactly AAU is supposed to do, but judging by how they've messed up so many other sports, and by the fact that they don't care how you run a league as long as you are giving them membership $$, it appears that ALL they are is a (money grubbing) insurance organization. That being said, USA Hockey is far from perfect and can be heavy handed at times. BUT at least they are tryig to develop programs to promot the growth and development of players and the sport as a whole. AAU is CLEARLY not an influence we want in our sport. Be careful of jumping at empty promises just becasue the advertising is good. There is NOTHING good for the little guy when it comes to AAU.

  3. Only a very small percentage of players will reach the stages you speak of. For example: Americans only represented 13% of the current NHL draft. I say if there is any way to make the sport cheaper for the little guy I'm all for it. Internation competition is fun to watch and it would continue weather or not 100% of the leagues left USA Hockey.

  4. USA Hockey has been one of the least effective youth sports organizations in history. Under the guise of promoting International Hockey, they have dictated their way to drive up costs and driving players away from the game.

    For at least the past 25 years, their one-size-fits-all approach to everything has lowered skill levels and their only response is to develop yet another one-size-fits-all concept.

    AAU offers better insurance at a lower cost and with less interference at the local level. Competition from AAU will only help youth hockey.

  5. On July 10th the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association passed their Cross-Ice mandate for Mites.

    Prior to that vote, Hockey Michigan - AAU only had a few teams committed for 2004 and 2003 travel.

    After the vote they now have over 25 travel teams from Michigan and still growing. And House teams are beginning to switch as well.

    Other AAU operations are now beginning in west Pennsylvania and possibly Ohio. Illinois would lock in the Midwest.

  6. AHAI/USA Hockey restricts the ability of kids to play hockey. Period. It is wrong and they have mismanaged Illinois Hockey, so never do the best play the best, second best play second best, etc. The fragmentation has ruined youth hockey in illinois and the owners of AHAI should be ashamed. "Volunteers". What they have done with the referees recently is even worse!

  7. As a follow on to this article, the excellent American Junior Hockey blog has a post on a Tier III junior hockey league jumping to AAU: