By @SKubus –
SOUTHGATE – The Michigan Amateur Hockey Association held its annual winter meetings Friday and Saturday in Southgate to discuss both the current and future states of youth hockey in the state.
In his President’s Report, MAHA President George Atkinson outlined points that showed some positive growth for the game in the last year.
On the first Saturday of November, 42 Michigan rinks and associations hosted a ‘Try Hockey for Free’ event where over 1,400 new players tried the sport for the very first time. And as of Dec. 1, there was a 1.5 percent increase in registered players from 2013.
With the American Development Model and cross-ice program well into effect for Mites, Atkinson said the U.S. National Team Development Program move to Compuware Arena will be a huge factor in advancing growth for players and coaches alike.
“Looking to the experts and so on, and what we’ll be able to do with Compuware Arena being here will go a long way in creating that little bit more advanced development program for those Mites that maybe we didn’t have before.”
Another relatively new program expected to flourish is the Midget-high school split season, which will be entering its second season this fall.
“I think next year that’s really going to kick into high gear,” Atkinson said. “We only had 25 in the playoffs, but we probably had closer to 40 teams this year. But really, there’s 175 or so (Michigan High School Athletic Association) teams so I think we could pretty easily double our number very quickly.”
But most importantly, the meetings culminated with Saturday’s discussion and voting on of the 34 proposed rule changes. And of those, 16 were voted to be sent ahead to the summer meetings in early July. From there, the proposals will be voted on as to whether or not they actually take effect.
While the majority of the changes discussed were simply for maintenance or merely involved slight wording changes, one of the more unique, abstract proposals that generated some discussion was exploring what an association actually is and how it’s defined.
Currently, the definitions of and differences between associations and clubs might not be as clearly defined as they should be, and that may potentially be hampering growth of the game. The main concern is that some associations could be attracting players from other associations, potentially weakening those programs, and not contributing enough themselves to the overall player pool.
That proposal was voted to be forwarded to a special committee for presentation and refinement at the summer meetings, where if properly constructed, will be up for vote.
One of the biggest challenges with these rule proposals is perfecting the proper wording. For example, one proposal was ultimately thrown out after roughly 10 minutes were spent attempting to correct the wording, because, as it eventually turned out, it coincided with a rule already in place.
“A lot of them maybe aren’t as well thought out as they should be,” Atkinson said. “When you get here and you’re trying to do the wording on the fly, it just never really seems to work very good.”
But all in all, Atkinson said he was pleased with the way the weekend developed and is looking forward to continuing discussions in July.
“I thought things went well. The January meetings always go through a lot of rule changes and some of them make it and some of them don’t so now the focus will be on those that passed and getting them polished up for the summer meeting.”
Note: According to Atkinson’s report, at February ‘Try Hockey for Free’ events, participating players will have the option to join for the remainder of the season and have their USA Hockey and MAHA fees waived.