HNL’s Goal of Amalgamation

Updated: February 17, 2016
Minor Hockey Players | Newfoundland Hockey Talk

For families with children involved with minor hockey in Newfoundland and Labrador, the reach of Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador (HNL) is one that cannot be denied. The recent reorganization of the AAA hockey within the province has drawn sharp criticism from parents, coaches, minor associations and players alike.

HNL would like people to think that minor hockey within the province is in great shape. In a report entitled “Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador Strategic Planning Document” it was noted that “from a demand perspective, HNL is in good shape, but unfortunately, there are a significant number of minor hockey associations where the total number of registrants is considered below the minimum efficient size required of a quality program.” The report indicated that amalgamation, restructuring or reorganization may be required to help with the long term viability of hockey within certain areas.

Throughout this report, it is apparent that the ground work is being done to start the process of amalgamating associations together to form several larger associations. HNL president Jack Lee has indicated that “This is about survival in rural Newfoundland. You can’t operate a program with six or ten kids. If you are in close proximity with an association with 300, then you are better off combining the programs.”

However, not everyone sees it this way. Many of the smaller associations indicate their programs are very successful and offer a complete program that involves male and female players. The main focus in these associations is on the development of hockey talent and skills that will eventually allow these players to move through the minor programs and compete at elite levels. Some parents however express concerns that the move to reorganize AAA within the province is just another way to forcing the associations to bow to the wishes of HNL. Some have criticized the report, indicating that its primary focus is on the larger associations within the St. John’s area and while there is an attempt to justify amalgamation, critics from many of the smaller associations have indicated that nobody from HNL or from those preparing the report spoke to them. These associations have indicated there is no desire to amalgamate or to force parents and children to drive further to play a game of hockey.

The report does provide some compelling numbers and analysis to support HNL’s desire for amalgamation. Is this truly a matter of survival for the game or is it HNL flexing its muscles over the control of the game as we have seen with its AAA reorganization?

For those who have not read the full report, you can download a copy here – “Hockey Newfoundland an Labrador Strategic Planning Document“.

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