Several years ago the Texas Amateur Hockey Association (TAHA) recognized that Tier I hockey had become more of a money-making venture for some organizations than a true player development and advancement vehicle. The number of organizations and teams claiming Tier I status could not be supported by the pool of Tier I talent in Texas and Oklahoma. The result was an excessive number of imports coming to Texas to play Tier I hockey, and Tier II players paying Tier I fees to sit on the end of a bench.
TAHA established guidelines on Tier I hockey and began limiting the number of Tier I organizations and teams to improve the competitiveness of local teams, reduce the number of imports from out of the area, and get local players competing at the appropriate levels.
Entering the third year of the established Tier I selection process, the pyramid structure is clearly working as three of the four Rocky Mountain District champions were from Texas. The fourth Texas Tier I team narrowly missed also advancing to the National Championship tournament with a loss in triple overtime.
The player pyramid simply works, and it has become evident that attention now needs to be focused on Tier II hockey and below.
The Stars, along with several local hockey organizations, recognize that there are not enough upper level players available to support the number of organizations offering “AA” teams. The talent pool has been severely diluted locally with “A” players rostered on “AA” teams and “B” and “house level” players playing on “A” teams.
The end result has been watered down competition at ALL levels and many of the players overpaying for their hockey experience. The game has become entirely too expensive for new players, many of whom have to bypass the much needed house development phase to jump onto more expensive travel teams to fill rosters. These budget-filling players are sacrificing learning and development all in the name of some organizations claiming “AA” status.
The NTXHL has been exceedingly ineffective at stemming the unnecessary expansion of hockey associations or in setting and “upholding” rules on the number of “AA” programs and teams. In fact many of their decisions created even more talent dilution and non-competitive playing divisions.
The Dallas Stars Travel Hockey League (DSTHL) was formed to establish some restrictions on “AA” hockey, to facilitate players competing on the teams they are more suited to be on, to reduce the overall number of “travel” teams, and to hopefully reduce the cost of our sport for current and new players.
The DSTHL has no desire to negatively impact any rink or reduce the number of kids playing hockey. We believe there should be a team for every kid who wants to play our sport. Not every player is a travel or elite level player (at least at this moment), and we want teams to be affordable and participate at the appropriate level; “AA”, “A”, “B” or House to allow maximum learning, enjoyment, and development.
In short the DSTHL continues the player development pyramid and is the correct approach to delivering intelligent and financially appropriate hockey teams.
The launch of the new Dallas Stars Travel Hockey League (DSTHL) has the complete support and backing of the Dallas Stars of the NHL. The encouragement and endorsements from the local hockey community have been strong with very few but predictable exceptions.
To be sure, we will not be able to answer every question at this point, and some information may not be available for some time, but rest assured that we are working to establish the structure and governance that will provide a quality environment for League members and improve the overall level of competition in all our playing divisions.
The new Dallas Stars Travel Hockey League (DSTHL) will begin play in the fall of 2012. Important information has been provided to all member clubs. If you have questions you should contact the member organizations you are interested in - simply click their link below.