Mandatory Level Declarations

Discussion of Minnesota Youth Hockey

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Should Minnesota Hockey mandate how associations declare team levels?

Poll ended at Fri Feb 26, 2016 10:31 am

Yes, too many teams sandbag
14
56%
No, this wouldn't help improve parity
11
44%
 
Total votes: 25

The Exiled One
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Mandatory Level Declarations

Post by The Exiled One » Wed Jan 27, 2016 10:31 am

I riffed off off of some other posters ideas for mandating declarations based on the number of kids at any a given age level. I'm in a position that would allow me to present this idea to Minnesota Hockey, but I need to gauge what type of support I have. Here's the basic plan...

2 teams / < 33 players: L1 (C), L2 (B2)
3 teams / 33- 39 players: L1, L2 , L3 (B1)
3 teams / 40- 48 players: L1, L2, L4 (A)
4 teams / 44 - 52 players: L1, L2, L2, L4
4 teams / 53 - 64 players: L1, L2, L3, L4
5 teams / 55 - 65 players: L1, L1, L2, L3, L4
5 teams / 66 - 80 players: L1, L1, L2, L3, L5 (AA)
6 teams / 66 - 78 players: L1, L1, L2, L2, L3, L5
6 teams / 79 - 96 players: L1, L1, L2, L3, L4, L5
7 teams / 77 - 112 players: L1, L1, L2, L2, L3, L4, L5
8 teams / 88 - 128: L1, L1, L2, L2, L3, L3, L4, L5
9 teams / 99 - 144: L1, L1, L2, L2, L3, L3, L4, L4, L5
10 teams / 110 - 160: L1, L1, L1, L2, L2, L3, L3, L4, L4, L5
11 teams / 121 - 176: L1, L1, L1, L2, L2, L2, L3, L3, L4, L4, L5
12 teams / 132+: L1, L1, L1, L2, L2, L2, L3, L3, L3, L4, L4, L5

• Associations would be able to opt up as many teams as they like, but they aren't allowed to opt down.
• This would go from Squirts/10U through Bantam/15U. Yes, that means a new level at squirts.
• All district games will generally be scheduled at the same level provided that a sufficient number of teams exist at each level. In instances of too few teams, inter-level games can be scheduled under the authorization of the district.
• Independently scheduled games can be up or down one level.
• With approval from the independent tournament directors, teams can opt up one level.
• Teams at the same level in the same association MUST be balanced.
• Roster sizes MUST be balanced.

Here's how it would work in practice:

Current: L1, L1, L1, L1, L2, L2, L2, L2, L3, L3, L4, L5
Proposed: L1, L1, L1, L2, L2, L2, L3, L3, L3, L4, L4, L5

Edina should have one less C team, one less B2 team, one more B1 team, and one more A team.

Thoughts?
Last edited by The Exiled One on Thu Jan 28, 2016 3:53 am, edited 3 times in total.

Eagles93
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Re: Mandatory Level Declarations

Post by Eagles93 » Wed Jan 27, 2016 11:55 am

The Exiled One wrote: • Teams at the same level in the same association MUST be balanced.
I assume you're saying balanced by ability. I'd also add that they must be balanced by numbers. A team can't have 12 skaters on the top team in the association and 17 on a lower team.

The Exiled One
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Re: Mandatory Level Declarations

Post by The Exiled One » Wed Jan 27, 2016 12:36 pm

Eagles93 wrote:
The Exiled One wrote: • Teams at the same level in the same association MUST be balanced.
I assume you're saying balanced by ability. I'd also add that they must be balanced by numbers. A team can't have 12 skaters on the top team in the association and 17 on a lower team.
Yes, and agreed.

SCBlueLiner
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Post by SCBlueLiner » Wed Jan 27, 2016 1:45 pm

When you meet resistance on that team skater number a good compromise would be to allow the association to field a team of skaters between 12-15 and one goalie minimum.

I would also add verbiage that strongly suggests those small associations field one A team and at minimum a B1 team.

I hate dictating things like this because I'm not a Communist. If only the associations policed themselves and strived to field the highest levels possible

The Exiled One
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Post by The Exiled One » Wed Jan 27, 2016 2:27 pm

SCBlueLiner wrote:When you meet resistance on that team skater number a good compromise would be to allow the association to field a team of skaters between 12-15 and one goalie minimum.

I would also add verbiage that strongly suggests those small associations field one A team and at minimum a B1 team.

I hate dictating things like this because I'm not a Communist. If only the associations policed themselves and strived to field the highest levels possible
I suppose it wouldn't hurt to allow smaller rosters, but they'd be held to the same declaration requirements as other associations with the same number of teams. The same goes for associations who want fewer teams with larger rosters I suppose. The mandatory declarations are primarily based on the number of teams with a little bit of flexibility for smaller associations with smaller roster sizes.

And I hate to dictate too, but it's a volunteer organization with a democratic rule making process. Some won't like it, but majority rules.
Last edited by The Exiled One on Thu Jan 28, 2016 2:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

observer
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Post by observer » Wed Jan 27, 2016 3:12 pm

Wow! Really? The 65 level thing is goofy. Feeling for your personal situation but associations and districts discuss the appropriate level for each team before each season. Are there a few that seem to stretch the boundaries? Yes. Hopefully they move up next year. Deal wit it.

The Exiled One
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Post by The Exiled One » Wed Jan 27, 2016 4:08 pm

observer wrote:Wow! Really? The 65 level thing is goofy. Feeling for your personal situation but associations and districts discuss the appropriate level for each team before each season. Are there a few that seem to stretch the boundaries? Yes. Hopefully they move up next year. Deal wit it.
Why make them guess? Why not make it easy? What benefit is there in leaving it up to the associations and districts?

Goose21
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Post by Goose21 » Thu Jan 28, 2016 2:09 am

I think district scheduling could be an issue in some districts. For example, in district 16 there are two Peewee AA teams-- Bemidji and Roseau. In your proposal they would lose district games against rival A programs like East Grand forks, Warroad, and Thief River Falls and travel much farther to find more games against AA programs.

The Exiled One
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Post by The Exiled One » Thu Jan 28, 2016 2:39 am

Goose21 wrote:I think district scheduling could be an issue in some districts. For example, in district 16 there are two Peewee AA teams-- Bemidji and Roseau. In your proposal they would lose district games against rival A programs like East Grand forks, Warroad, and Thief River Falls and travel much farther to find more games against AA programs.
Fair point. That could be amended. Something like...

• All district games will generally be scheduled at the same level provided that a sufficient number of teams exist at each level. In instances of too few teams, inter-level games can be scheduled under the authorization of the district.

EDIT: Also, I adjusted the tables so that there is overlap in regards to the number of players at each level. I did this because it gives the associations a bit more discretion in deciding roster sizes. It is assumed that rosters will be 11-16 players, goalies included. Smaller associations with roster sizes of 13 or less would have less stringent declaration requirements.

observer
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Post by observer » Thu Jan 28, 2016 3:15 am

What benefit is there in leaving it up to the associations and districts?
Cuz they know their players best. 20 hockey players in East Grand Forks aren't necessarily the same as 20 hockey players in Albert Lea. Tons of variables. Numbers can mean very little in terms of individual player development.

The Exiled One
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Post by The Exiled One » Thu Jan 28, 2016 3:34 am

observer wrote:Cuz they know their players best.
I'm going to call bull on this. Just because they may know they have "A" level players doesn't keep them from declaring a B1 team. Knowledge is not equivalent to integrity.

Also, knowing you have "B1 level" players just means you think they'll be competitive against other B1 teams. The other associations are thinking the same thing about you! It's completely circular reasoning.

Finally, I don't think every association knows their players as well as you think they do. Combining guesswork and politics together is how we got to the state we're in.
observer wrote:20 hockey players in East Grand Forks aren't necessarily the same as 20 hockey players in Albert Lea. Tons of variables. Numbers can mean very little in terms of individual player development.
EGF and AL players may not be equivalent, but AL and Faribault players are probably pretty close. The vast majority of games being played are against other teams in the district. That's the problem mandatory declarations aims to fix first.

Every argument you've used thus far makes it sound like you're either afraid of change, are part of an association that sandbags, or both.

The Exiled One
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Post by The Exiled One » Thu Jan 28, 2016 3:48 am

Here's the table for the girls side:

1 team / ??? players: L1 (B)
2 teams / 22 - 32 players: L1, L2 (A)
3 teams / 33 - 48 players: L1, L1, L2
4 teams / 44 - 52 players: L1, L1, L1, L2
4 teams / 53 - 64 players: L1, L1, L2, L2

As far as I can tell, no association has more than four teams at any age level.

Also, I think these levels could be used for scheduling inter-gender games between 10U/squirts or 12U/peewees. The same rules apply for playing up or down levels. This is a side benefit of switching away from a top-down classification system and moving to a bottom-up classification system.

Stripes2011
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Post by Stripes2011 » Thu Jan 28, 2016 9:46 am

what if they adopted a system similar to what Soccer does: set a threshold on wins? if you win XX% of your games you are forced to move up? example would be if an association selects to play at the level that may produce a high level of wins the next year team is forced up, if and or once they lose a percentage of games they are forced down the next year. I may not be explaining this in writing very well. but the concept seems to work for soccer I know the issue becomes turn over? some players move up creating a new team. this would cause associations to think of the age level as more than just a one year at a time decision? Even the kids moving up are subject to the success or lack or by the level ahead of them.. just an added thought.

SCBlueLiner
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Post by SCBlueLiner » Thu Jan 28, 2016 9:54 am

Because then you put an emphasis on winning instead of where it is supposed to be for youth sports, development, competition, and fun. A relegation system would be a very bad idea.

Section 8 guy
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Post by Section 8 guy » Thu Jan 28, 2016 5:55 pm

The framework of your system is very good.

That said, if this were to be mandated you'd likely have far more teams playing at the wrong levels than there are today. The point that 20 players in EGF aren't equal to 20 players in WADENA is a great one and is spot on. Let Associations choose what levels their kids play at.......they do know best what talent levels they have and where they fit.

Make this a guideline and have an oversight committee/mechanism within MN Hockey that allows them to address associations that are clearly trying to have their cake and eat it too by playing teams at incorrectly low levels (straying from the guidelines) so they can brag about how many titles they win.

I like the concept......but implementing this as a mandated requirement would be a disaster IMHO.

elliott70
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Post by elliott70 » Fri Jan 29, 2016 12:59 am

Section 8 guy wrote:The framework of your system is very good.

That said, if this were to be mandated you'd likely have far more teams playing at the wrong levels than there are today. The point that 20 players in EGF aren't equal to 20 players in WADENA is a great one and is spot on. Let Associations choose what levels their kids play at.......they do know best what talent levels they have and where they fit.

Make this a guideline and have an oversight committee/mechanism within MN Hockey that allows them to address associations that are clearly trying to have their cake and eat it too by playing teams at incorrectly low levels (straying from the guidelines) so they can brag about how many titles they win.

I like the concept......but implementing this as a mandated requirement would be a disaster IMHO.
While most associations decide what level their teams play, the actual decision lies with the district director. But that is difficult even in the smaller districts in the outstate.

In District 16, the rule is your first team is A (or AA). Then B with equal teams for the rest (if more than 2 at the next level).
At our late summer meeting the association makes a request to stray from this rule. Each assn weighs in and almost always the request is allowed.

This results in some years where the smal assn walks away with the district title. The upside being they pick up extra kids in mites the following year.

Of course there is much more impact in the bigger districts.

Part of the difficulty is how to find a system that fits d16 and d6; Moorhead and park Rapids. But the start is that DD are talking about it and now we are getting ideas and discussion here and hopefully at the local assn and districts.

Thanks everyone for the discussion and I hope it continues.

jg2112
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Post by jg2112 » Fri Jan 29, 2016 2:50 am

Stripes2011 wrote:what if they adopted a system similar to what Soccer does: set a threshold on wins? if you win XX% of your games you are forced to move up? example would be if an association selects to play at the level that may produce a high level of wins the next year team is forced up, if and or once they lose a percentage of games they are forced down the next year. I may not be explaining this in writing very well. but the concept seems to work for soccer I know the issue becomes turn over? some players move up creating a new team. this would cause associations to think of the age level as more than just a one year at a time decision? Even the kids moving up are subject to the success or lack or by the level ahead of them.. just an added thought.
In soccer the team that moves up stays together and has a team comprised of only one year. Example: a U13C2 team that wins its league gets "promoted" the next year to U14C1.

The obvious problem in hockey is what you stated. If we're using the soccer model, Mounds View Irondale's Pee Wee A team would be "promoted" to Bantam AA, because 12 of its 15 skaters and at least 1 of the goalies are moving up to Bantams this year. It's not as "clean" as soccer do to promotion/relegation.

The Exiled One
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Post by The Exiled One » Fri Jan 29, 2016 3:19 am

Section 8 guy wrote:The framework of your system is very good.

That said, if this were to be mandated you'd likely have far more teams playing at the wrong levels than there are today. The point that 20 players in EGF aren't equal to 20 players in WADENA is a great one and is spot on.
That's the problem with top-down designations. Wadena's peewee A team is getting clobbered. They SHOULD be playing down a level or two. TRF has the same number of peewee teams but are playing much better. I'd bet good money that they'd choose to opt up. This framework accommodates that.
Section 8 guy wrote:Let Associations choose what levels their kids play at.......they do know best what talent levels they have and where they fit.
Again, that's circular reasoning. They are placing their teams where they think they'll be competitive based on how other associations are placing their teams where they think they'll be competitive. There's no standard.
Last edited by The Exiled One on Fri Jan 29, 2016 3:43 am, edited 2 times in total.

The Exiled One
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Post by The Exiled One » Fri Jan 29, 2016 3:31 am

Here's another way to visualize the proposal. The top chart reflects how talent would naturally be distributed through a population of hockey players. It's linear, with players scattered evenly across the talent spectrum.

Not to pick on Edina, but they have a lot of teams which makes them a good candidate for analysis. The second chart shows how they currently have their peewee teams distributed.

The third chart shows how Edina's teams would be distributed in accordance to the proposal.

Image

Here are the three graphs overlaid with the standard classifications. Note that this proposal is STILL a compromise and it is expected that larger associations would have a natural advantage at the top levels. That's by design. The best from one area will always want to compete with the best from another area, but the lower levels should not exist for "winning". They exist for developing kids by pairing them with teams of a similar skill level which results in competitive games rather than blowouts.

Image

SCBlueLiner
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Post by SCBlueLiner » Fri Jan 29, 2016 4:44 am

I like places like this. I like discussion. There is nothing wrong with everyone putting their ideas forth and collaborating. The faintest voice in this discussion is that everything is okay as it is. The majority seems to agree that it's not okay and are putting ideas forth. Hopefully this discussion and others like it lead to positive change that will benefit future players since thete are posters here like Elliot who are listening and are in a position to bring forth these ideas.

It is also nice to see a topic being discussed on this board. It's been a while. There used to be all sorts of threads and debates here but it has dwindled of late. Nice to see some action return.

goldy313
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Post by goldy313 » Fri Jan 29, 2016 3:33 pm

I generally like the idea save this......

Squirts have a house or house type leagues in many places (Rochester has 6 house squirt teams), this proposal might have the unintentional consequence of forcing parents and players into a "travel" mode too early and actually hurt numbers or force a choice in sports too early, not to mention the sticker shock traveling hockey can bring. Where I live basketball starts in 4th grade and in the House league a number of kids play both hockey and basketball.

Also I think there would have to a qualifier about goalies, obviously you need to have enough of them. At the squirt level passing the pads around can work but once you're at the bantam level it's a pretty big safety issue putting a kid in goal who has never played before.

The Exiled One
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Post by The Exiled One » Mon Feb 01, 2016 4:55 am

goldy313 wrote:I generally like the idea save this......

Squirts have a house or house type leagues in many places (Rochester has 6 house squirt teams), this proposal might have the unintentional consequence of forcing parents and players into a "travel" mode too early and actually hurt numbers or force a choice in sports too early, not to mention the sticker shock traveling hockey can bring. Where I live basketball starts in 4th grade and in the House league a number of kids play both hockey and basketball.

Also I think there would have to a qualifier about goalies, obviously you need to have enough of them. At the squirt level passing the pads around can work but once you're at the bantam level it's a pretty big safety issue putting a kid in goal who has never played before.
Good points, and I think both can be accomodated with simple qualifiers.

Section 8 guy
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Post by Section 8 guy » Mon Feb 01, 2016 5:14 pm

Here's one example of why I struggle with the one size fits all concept. One Association I am familiar with has 4 travel teams at each level typically with the top team being AA.

One challenge each year is what level to have the second team play at, A or B. Over the years they have tried both. Some years things go well and the second team ends up at the right level, some years they play B and destroy most teams they play and some years they play A and lose a lot and badly. Neither 2 or 3 are good options. One thing I can assure you is that they genuinely attempt to place the team at the correct level based on talent level of the group. They tend to err on the side of having them play up when in doubt in the name of development. There is no circular logic here as you've referenced since the people involved in the decisions are mostly the same each year.....they know what A hockey is, they know what B hockey is and they know the talent level of the kids involved.

At the end of the day they probably only get it right half the time. if well informed people trying to do the right thing only get it right in this example about half the time.......It's highly unlikely the one size fits all approach won't fare worse with more extreme misses. The more levels you bring into play......the more variability that's involved and the wider the margin for error becomes.

The system above assumes that skater 15-30 in Anytown MN are the same quality wise year after year. That's simply not the case.

The Exiled One
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Post by The Exiled One » Tue Feb 02, 2016 3:37 am

Section 8 guy wrote:Here's one example of why I struggle with the one size fits all concept. One Association I am familiar with has 4 travel teams at each level typically with the top team being AA.

One challenge each year is what level to have the second team play at, A or B. Over the years they have tried both. Some years things go well and the second team ends up at the right level, some years they play B and destroy most teams they play and some years they play A and lose a lot and badly. Neither 2 or 3 are good options. One thing I can assure you is that they genuinely attempt to place the team at the correct level based on talent level of the group. They tend to err on the side of having them play up when in doubt in the name of development. There is no circular logic here as you've referenced since the people involved in the decisions are mostly the same each year.....they know what A hockey is, they know what B hockey is and they know the talent level of the kids involved.

At the end of the day they probably only get it right half the time. if well informed people trying to do the right thing only get it right in this example about half the time.......It's highly unlikely the one size fits all approach won't fare worse with more extreme misses. The more levels you bring into play......the more variability that's involved and the wider the margin for error becomes.

The system above assumes that skater 15-30 in Anytown MN are the same quality wise year after year. That's simply not the case.
I appreciate your input, but I don't think your example supports your assertion. In fact, I'd say it directly contradicts your premise. You claim that "they know what A hockey is, they know what B hockey is" but you also claim they guess at which level they should place the second team and often get it wrong. Clearly they don't know their players as well as you claim.

Or, the alternative explanation is that the opposition aimed too high the year your association aimed too low. So, the next year they play down and you play up. The result is yet another mismatch.

Finally, you're not giving enough credit to the flexibility built into the plan. All teams have the option to play up (C to B2, B2 to B1, B1 to A, A to AA). This plan doesn't include a ceiling, just a floor. The floor creates a standard where currently none exists.

SCBlueLiner
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Post by SCBlueLiner » Tue Feb 02, 2016 3:47 am

Agree. There will be some years where you are up and some where you are down but I bet more often than not this plan would hit that sweetspot. Why? Because it forces that minimum floor and gives the option of playing a team up when the association knows they got a good group coming through. It prevents that sandbagging effect that throws everyone off.

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