Please take some time to read an opinion article from our most experienced TSMHA coach Glenn Gervais.
To: Tecumseh Hockey Parents and Players:
RE: TSMHA Reclassification from “AA” to “A” 2023/2024 Season
My name is Glenn Gervais and I have been involved with Tecumseh Shoreline Minor Hockey for 26 years. I am a hockey development instructor with Hockey Canada and the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA). I specialize in training coaches in the long-term player development model. I am a skills/power skating instructor and have taught for many hockey camps and schools. I have worked with numerous other hockey associations and have coached house league, travel, and junior hockey. I have served as a board member for TSMHA for over 22 years and I have been on the Bluewater Hockey League executive board for 16 years, currently in the role of Vice President. I am currently a long serving non parent coach for our U18 travel team.
After a lengthy and in-depth review by the OMHA, TSMHA is moving to “A” hockey starting in the 2023/2024 season. With spring tryouts around the corner, there has been a considerable amount of discussion around the arena about how this will affect TSMHA Rep players moving forward. Given the scope of my experience with TSMHA, I feel that it is important to explain our history as a centre and how we’ve progressed through different levels based on the size of our organization. I have spoken to numerous parents and coaches who feel we are going backwards in the level of hockey we will be playing. This is the farthest thing from the truth.
OMHA considers several factors when setting levels for minor hockey associations. Factors include population size, number of registered skaters, and OMHA championship success just to name a few.
For many years, Tecumseh was an “A” centre. During that time, we had several OMHA Champions, OMHA Finalists, and even OHF Championship Teams. Tecumseh also had several North American Silver Stick Champions, numerous OMHA Tournament Champions and numerous US Tournament Champions.
From 1995 through 2003, the majority of Tecumseh teams experienced success in our own Bluewater League standings. This all happened at “A” level hockey. During that period, our players became very familiar with success. Our development excelled to the point that we were consistently graduating players to “AAA”. A major reason for our players excelling was that we developed confident skilled hockey players.
In the early 2000’s, the OMHA moved our association to “AA” to align with Kent. At the time, Kent was the only other “AA” centre in our area. At the time, the OMHA wanted at least 2 “AA” teams in Kent and Essex County. Over the following 5 years, OMHA added Windsor, Lasalle and Belle River.
It’s no secret that since our move to “AA”, our ability to compete with other “AA” centres across Ontario has been very difficult. Suddenly our teams were playing larger centres in “AA” tournaments and trying to compete in OMHA playdowns at the “AA” level. OMHA tournaments and Silver Stick wins disappeared during the same period. To provide some perspective, our small town of Tecumseh, with a population of approximately 25,000, is competing against AA centres of the following sizes:
Oakville - 210,000
Milton - 151,000
Brampton - 680,000
Vaughn - 341,000
Barrie - 214,000
Aurora - 62,000
Ajax - 134,000
St. Catherine’s - 424,000
Hamilton - 776,000
Oshawa - 406,000
Kingston - 125,000
Belle Ville - 60,000
Whitby - 125,000
Richmond Hill - 195,000
Pickering - 100,000
Stoney Creek - 70,000
Halton Hills - 65,000
Burlington - 185,000
It should be noted that population is not the only consideration when classifying minor hockey associations. However, it does provide perspective for the sheer number of potential skaters available to participate in minor hockey.
As mentioned above, over the years at “AA”, most of our teams would go to tournaments or playdowns with limited ability to truly compete. Of course, some of our TSMHA teams have had success over the years, but the general experience of our adjustment to “AA” hockey could be described as very difficult at best.
As we all know, Bluewater League is unique in that each centres’ top teams are both classified as both “AA” and “A”. Instead of consistently playing larger true “AA” centres “up the road”, our rep players experience a mix of regular season games against both “AA” and “A” centres.
In most cases, Bluewater “A” teams have been successful in OMHA Championships. Teams from Riverside, Essex, Erie, and Southpoint have experienced numerous championships and have won many “A” tournaments in recent memory. In almost all “A” tournaments, our Bluewater teams can be confident they can compete or outright win. Even locally, many of our own Bluewater divisions see our “A” teams at or near the top of their respective divisions … despite playing local “AA” teams with the advantage or capitalizing on NRP players.
Recently I have heard several TSMHA members saying they want to take their kids to Belle River, or Lasalle to play “AA”. As stated above, this is not a “higher level” of hockey as players are playing the same league!
Imagine our TSMHA teams next year going to a tournament and playing similarly sized regions such as Orillia, Innisfil, St Thomas, New Hamburg, Ancaster, Norfolk, Hespeler, Uxbridge, Owen Sound, Collingwood, King City, and Bradford to list a few. As someone who was coaching during the years Tecumseh was an “A” centre, these were the associations that we competed well with and experienced success. Tecumseh hockey needs to create an environment where our players can taste success again. Success breeds confidence and that ultimately leads to stronger development and a better minor hockey experience
I am asking that members of our association be patient as we rebuild the program we once had and instill pride in our organization. Attract quality coaches and create a situation where our players want to play for Tecumseh … Not just an “AA” or “A” team, but for Tecumseh.
If a TSMHA Rep player excels, I am the first person to recommend a player play at the highest level. In our unique Bluewater League, the higher level is “AAA” hockey and not the “AA” teams in our area. Keep in mind that our league consists of several similarly sized townships to Tecumseh. Windsor would be the exception to the population example, but WMHA has experienced a drastic decline in their registration over the past decade. It is obvious to myself and other lifelong minor hockey volunteers, that our entire Bluewater League struggles to complete at the “AA” level when compared to the rest of Ontario.
If your concern is getting your child to play junior hockey, I can assure you, TSMHA graduates numerous players from our U18 program to Junior C and Junior B on a consistent basis.
Windsor was recently granted “A” status by the OMHA on March 6th. Next season, our Bluewater League will be made up of six “A” teams.
Tecumseh can compete at “A” level hockey. Please consider all the facts before you think about going to a local “AA” centre as an NRP. There is no evidence that it will make your child a better hockey player long term.