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SHA proposal would keep players closer to home

The recruiting area for Estevan's AA hockey teams could be getting a lot smaller.

The recruiting area for Estevan's AA hockey teams could be getting a lot smaller.

Jody Harris, Saskatchewan Hockey Association representative for Zone 1, announced April 21 at the Estevan Minor Hockey Association's annual general meeting that the SHA will be voting on a resolution at its own AGM requiring that players who wish to play AA hockey try out first with the closest AA team to their home centre.

To try out with another AA team in the area, a player would first have to be granted his or her release from the minor hockey association of the town with the closest AA team.

Barring that release, communities Estevan had previously recruited from - Alameda, Oxbow, Carnduff, Halbrite, Stoughton, Redvers, Storthoaks, Carlyle, and Arcola among them -would become off limits.

Harris said the SHA saw the need for change after dealing with a number of complaints and appeals from northern Saskatchewan, but she says she expects it will benefit the game across the province.

Current regulations allow a team to recruit from anywhere within a 120-kilometre radius. Problems had occurred in the Prince Albert area, where midget players have six to eight AA teams to choose from, and in the Naicam area where bantam players have nine options at their disposal.

"There are a lot of extreme parents out there and what this does is it kind of forces them to open up their eyes and see there's more to it than just the one kid," Harris said in an interview Thursday. "It forces them to see that there are organizations locally doing their best to provide kids with the best opportunity they can."

The SHA's AGM is scheduled for June 5 in Regina.

Looking further down the road, Harris added that SHA may eventually consider mandating a reduction in the number of AA teams in the province to better ensure the quality of the AA product.

"Our thing is, is this AA hockey or is it watered down a bit?" said Harris. " What's really good about the board I'm on is it's a group that's not afraid to make decisions.

"We've got to help out these associations' presidents because some of them are business owners and sometimes they're not able to make these decisions because it might affect them putting bread on the table, which is where SHA comes in."