I have had many conversations with many different people over the last three years and I am still frustrated how everything has played out. Everybody I have talked to bring valid reasons for feeling the way they feel. That being said it is now time for all parties to do what is not only best for their individual programs but to also do what is best for Michigan High School Hockey.
All programs need to do what is in their best interest, but it is in everyone’s interests to help our game to continue to grow and gain popularity. There are many things that could help our cause but in my opinion, let me stress this, my opinion; these four things would contribute greatly to increasing the popularity of high school hockey in Michigan.
1. All Coaches need to register and be an active participant of the Michigan High School Hockey Coaches Association.
Believe it or not, we still have coaches who do not register their team to the coaches association. By doing this they are unable to nominate their players for All-State recognition. What these coaches also do is cut themselves off from what is going on in our game. We need everybody to have their voice heard and have everyone involved in the decision-making process. I know it might be a dream but I do not see why we cannot get 100% participation from all teams around the state.
2. All teams should join the Michigan High School Hockey Hub Website.
Seeing websites like this for both Minnesota and Wisconsin it was time for Michigan to follow suit. Last year the website was put together within a month from the start of the high school season. Many teams jumped to the chance of joining the website but there were still some schools and leagues that were hesitant due to either having their own website or waiting to see how the website evolved. This year with an entire off-season in front of us, more coaches will be trained on how to fully use all options on the website. It will truly be the one stop that all Michigan High School fans, coaches, players, and parents will go to find whatever it is they need. My goal again is 100% participation because this, like joining the coaches association, will show how united our coaches and their programs are to make this the best game they can.
3. The two big showcases need to play on different weekends.
Both the MIHL Showcase and the Michigan Public School Showcase are the two biggest events of the regular season. It hurts our game to have both of these events on the same weekend. The Public School Showcase has brought their cause to both the state and the high school hockey community. Having the event at anytime will not change that at this point. But what it will do is allow each showcase to gain the full attention it deserves. Both of these are great events and it is too bad teams and high school hockey fans need to make a choice on where they are going to be. Having both of these events on separate weekends is what is best for high school hockey, period.
4. The state tournament needs to use some type of seeding system.
We need to do what we can to make sure that the match ups are as competitive as possible the further we go on in the tournament. I know the MHSAA is not always willing to allow change so the method I like with the least amount of change. What you would do is rank the top four teams in every regional. The remaining four teams would have a blind draw like we already do to determine where and who they play. This will create very competitive match ups in most cases for the regional final. I am not sure if you could re-seed teams once they got to the quarterfinals but if you did, this would contribute to four deserving teams getting to Compuware. We cannot even begin to talk about getting games on cable TV or better news coverage until we do our part to making our game worth watching.
I know that with everything you deal with egos and hurt feelings or people who feel they are not being treated fairly. Just like the lessons we try to teach our players, life is not always fair and just because it is not fair does not mean you quit trying. I really have an interest in making high school hockey the best game it can be. I have a passion for both the players and coaches that make this the best game in the world. It is not in my make-up as a person to say that we cannot do better. Now it is time for each and every one of us to do what is best for Michigan High School Hockey.