You are a prospect student athlete and you would like to pursue the Junior route. This diagram below help you to understand the major hockey steps that a player can play over time to quickly access the NHL:
They are some benefits in choosing the Junior route:
- Intensive off-ice training developing athletic abilities.
- Intensive on-ice training to improve and develop the technical and tactical aspects of hockey playing (3-4 weekly games).
- “High-level” of game competition.
- Study grants following the Junior career.
- Others (community involvement, drafted early by an NHL team, insurance and medical care, weekly salary, etc.).
On one hand, long hours of bus may discourage a player if he is not a ‘Sidney Crosby” type. Also, training and playing 10 months a year may discourage parents to recommend this route to their children. On the other hand, if your first goal as a young player is to play hockey and to become a professional hockey player, the Major Junior route is the best highway to quickly access the Pro hockey level. Briefly, each case is different and you may have to “weigh” the pros and cons of choosing this route.
Here is a Check List to review before deciding to choose the Junior Route:
- Review the Junior hockey league documentation on their web site to discover about their philosophy, vision, and program!
- Get to several Junior tryouts if possible!
- Surf the hockey team’s web site to study their hockey program and goals?
- Learn about coaches and team history! (Player’s profile should be correlated with the coach’s profile!).
- What weekly schedule does the team keep?
- What is the breakdown between “school-time” and “hockey-time”?
- How do they travel? Do they travel far? How many days they spend on the road when traveling? Do they have an educator on board while traveling?
- What guarantees do I have as a player if I get hurt and my hockey future is compromised from the league and/or from the team I am playing!?
- Do they offer scholarships to complete my studies when I complete my Junior hockey career?
- Learn about costs/housing/travel/fitness/academic options/etc.!
- Learn about their conditioning and strength training programs critical to minimize injuries!
- Where are former team players studying and playing?
- See practice sessions and games!
- Others (Role of the player in the local community!; summer training program!; etc.).