A need for a meeting of the minds

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To the Hershey Junior Bears,

I have had a discussion with Doug Yingst and with Ray Ferry of the Central Penn Panthers. Both agree that some meeting should take place in order to resolve the issues between the two clubs.

When will that meeting take place or are we just going to continue to send mixed signals to our youth hockey parents and players?

Until this meeting occurs, I will leave the Hershey Application on the the table.

Isn't it time to put away the egos and resolve the issues? Your parents have right to know what's really going on.

I noticed you changed the page that refers to your Club meeting. You still seem to indicate that your fate is in hands of USA Hockey. They do not determine what happens in any district, especially when you consider, that they have already approved our rules and regulations.

Lets get on with the meeting.


Glenn Hefferan AYHL President

-- Anonymous, February 12, 1999



Doug and a lot of the gang are up in Quebec this week. I'll make sure he gets your message. He probably has this on his agenda for when he gets back. I don't think that we've sent mixed signals to the folks in our organization, though, or that there are any egos involved. The members of our org know that we don't discourage anyone from going anywhere else, or from coming back once they do, or staying there. The parents in this organization have seen this, as we've got plenty who have gone to the Panthers, Jr. Flyers, and even local clubs like the Rockets and Vipers and then come back, or chose to stay. Some are angry about this or that, like any organization, but they're still our friends, and we get along with them well, they play on our Quebec team and are allowed back to other teams openly instead of being blacklisted. Our board meetings, where this issue has been discussed the past few months, are always open, and we have parents who stop by just to see what's up. Maybe I'll open up a page on the site called "AA Update" or something where the details of what has transpired and where we're at can be posted. This way things are in the open. We certainly don't have anything to hide or want to, and you guys can check it to make sure the facts are straight. When you don't communicate effectively, people tend to assume the worst. My first attempt at keeping the members of our organization updated didn't go over well - it was read by people who weren't in the target audience and interpreted incorrectly, and actually that's because it wasn't worded well as I didn't take different people's perspective into account. We promote our organization by saying we have great coaching at a great price, and someone else reading that sees it as a dig at themselves. I need to hire some of Clinton's PR folks! For example, when I say "USA Hockey", I mean people in high positions such as yourself and Tom Koester. When you read that, you probably see that as Tom, who is the next level up (from what I know). I think our situation is summarized as follows:

We have full teams at every level of players who can play AA. These families choose to stay in our organization of their own accord each year, rather than go somewhere else, because they feel that they are part of a tradition, or just because we are for the most part extremely well organized and coached and they feel they are being treated well and their kids are learning. These families apparently aren't going anywhere, since very few have taken that option or have and then come back, and since we have so many Advanced Certified coaches who are students of the game and also want a better challenge, and the strong treasury and infrastructure to handle the demands of AA, we feel that as an organzation we have to take that step. We don't see the situation as changing as it hasn't, in fact it has gotten worse this season as so many came back after going to other organizations. The realistic, real-life situation here is that they aren't going anywhere so it's up to us to provide a challenge to do that. We would like that to be the Atlantic League, but if we are not accepted we will probably go independent and take a bus trips once a month to selected tournaments in Boston, Lake Placid, etc to play stronger teams, and play others in-between and double our practices.

Now, that's just our perspective. We're still intending to sit with the Panthers and see what we can come up with. But of course both organizations want control. That's not an ego thing, we just run a tight ship and like anyone else that does, are concerned about giving anyone else control over that. We're concerned about incuring any liability to someone else's debt by becoming their partner. And above all, we can't force the parents/kids to go somewhere else, particularly given the same concerns, we care about them. This is kind of the thing we went around and around about on the ride home from that ill-fated trip to NJ! (by the way, Larry didn't get his truck back, no surprise!). Bottom line is that we have respect for what the Panthers tried to accomplish, and expected the better players to go there and leave us as a competitive Tier II org, but they've continued to stay, so now we have to take care of them, they're members of our proud legacy. It's sad, because we really would like to join the Atlantic League, and feel we're being forced into this to solve somebody else's problem. The USA Hockey guidebook says so much about allowing us to play at the proper level of competition, and nothing of the politics involved in getting there. The 50-mile rule doesn't apply to non-Junior franchises and we're almost outside of that anyway, and many of our families are north and west of here, making Lancaster quite a hike, aside from the other issues above. The Tier I moratorium is to solve the problem of so many AA teams in the Philly area, but we're pretty far away, so that shouldn't apply. We're not talking about retaining a few talented kids that we could try to convince to go down the road, we have *entire teams* of players, coaches, and managers who are ready and want it here. And as I said before, the parents today are quite savvy and know their options, they don't need us to tell them their kid can play AA and where those options are. Many feel angry when we do so, feeling that we're meddling or pushing them away. The huge numbers at our tryouts are testimonial to how attractive our organization, coaching, etc are. It's not the money, as these same folks drop many hundreds of dollars on camps, etc. The DVHL and members of our organization are really driving this, we're responding to their continued input with AA or independent play. Perhaps we could enter as an Elite-level team in your league, which would not compete with the Panthers. Just an idea, as you said, let's keep talking! We still have some time...

Bill Hines

-- Anonymous, February 12, 1999

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