Focus on Development

by Peter Weidman

Hockey the way it's meant to be played. It needs to go back to where it was before, namely developing skills for the players.

Todd Saelhof of the Calgary Sun talks about the Calgary AMP Academy in joining with the CAJHL:

The goal is to change the path of development in hockey.

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And the culture surrounding that push for excellence.

The article speaks of developing players as all round excellence, not just between intermissions on the ice.

“Our success,” said club president Brad Layzell, “is going to come by how many players we move on to college. Part of the Tier II component is maintaining your NCAA eligibility, but it’s not just saying you want to play college hockey. We have all of our kids taking the SATs. We have academic requirements — our athletes have to have an 85% GPA to be eligible to play. So we’re raising the bar as far as academics go, but we’re also preparing them.

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So is the newly formed CAJHL, which came together in January and will compete for hockey talents also courted by the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

The fresh loop is comprised of the Warriors, the Barrhead Bombers, the Cold Lake Aeros, the Edmonton Eagles, the Hinton Timberwolves, the Vegreville Vipers — all teams based in Alberta — and Utah’s Vernal Oilers.

“We love the AJHL, and we were originally trying to get into the AJHL,” Layzell said. “But they’re a well-established league and not looking to expand right now. And the Can-Am league was looking and heard that we were interested in doing something, so it was a great fit.

In the end, our goal is always the same. Help make better human beings in the process, 

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“Unfortunately, there is a dark side to hockey,” added Layzell. “We’ve been working on trying to create a different culture. Instead of getting mad and banging our feet about it, we’re rolling up our sleeves and trying to actively make a difference. It’s building these people into great humans and providing a culture that we believe youth sports and amateur sports is supposed to be about by bringing together a dedicated group of adults that really care about these athletes and want to see them be successful.”