The Brick Invitational Tournament is summer hockey tournament held in Edmonton Alberta, Canada. It is an invite only tournament for 10 year old hockey players that has preset number of teams from different parts of US and Canada. The tournament is held at the Edmonton Mall. The 14 teams that currently have a charter for the tournament are Toronto Bulldogs, Boston, Montreal, Team Minnesota, BC, Winnipeg, Team Sask, Toronto ProHockey, Alberta, Detroit, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, California, and Chicago. Many of the teams usually have tryouts in Fall and Winter and compete together in spring and then participate in the Brick Invitational Tournament in the summer. The tournament has alumni that have made it to the NHL and other higher levels in hockey.
Similar to many other aspects of youth hockey this tournament is often presented quite differently than what is true in reality. First of all if a kid makes a team in the tournament his chances of playing at higher levels in hockey don’t improve or decrease. What is commonly seen by many hockey coaches, scouts, and athletic directors is that the best player at 6 is not always the best player at 8 and the best player at 8 is not always the best at 10 and so on. Player skills and ability change rapidly and players determine their future with the work they put in to the game. Game also changes as players get older giving certain physical attributes like strength and size more prominence.
Another fallacy of the tournament is the statement a team represents the best players from the area they represent. Often many of the best players don’t participate because of cost or corrupt local team selection processes. Unfortunately, some teams often are built based on pay to play model vs best player model. Teams are often accused of taking only the players that have participated in their camps, spring and fall programs. Many teams are already chosen prior to tryouts and there maybe a few open spots. This is never told to participants and often leads to anger. Unfortunately many of tournament teams lack integrity, accessibility and often equal opportunity which leads to less participation and opportunity. Additionally, the Brick tournament winning teams and teams successful at the tournament often lose to non brick teams in other tournaments.
Participation has some positives despite the fact the selection process is broken. If there is training offered it is at a very high level. Seeing a different part of the world for many players is also exciting. The games are also fun but you are paying quite a bit for the experience.
What can be done to improve the selection process and bring more integrity, accessibility and equal opportunity for the tournament? Have national standards on tryout procedures for selection process. Instead of just having rules of who can’t play for certain teams by geography have rules on preserving the integrity of the tryouts and selection process. How many of a certain team’s players are “well connected” with the franchise owner? Also many of the players that get to play in the tournament are children of the hockey coaches that run particular brick franchises and their friends and employees. I still have never seen a hockey coach cut his own kid when he may not be good enough to play in the Brick tournament. Franchises should not be used to make money directly or indirectly or provide gratuities to business partners, it should be not for profit. Profits direct and indirect should go to charity or to help the players. A third party auditor should be used to examine the process. Unfortunately this will never be done as the Brick franchises find it favorable to profit from the youth hockey families that just don’t know better.
For those interested in trying out for the different brick franchises please use the links below to reach their websites.
BC Jr. Canucks
Boston Jr. Bruins
Chicago Jr. Blackhawks
Connecticut Jr. Yankees
Detroit Jr. Redwings
Montreal Ice Storm
Team Sask Jr. Pats
Toronto Pro Hockey
Winnipeg Jr. Jets
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