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A couple changes are noticeable in modern college line-ups.

One is that the players are much older. A 25 year-old is not uncommon in today's roster.

The other is the geography of today's hockey player. Used to be that everyone came from one of the provinces or a few northern states. Now, you see some kids from Georgia, Texas, Florida, and all over the place. I've heard the argument that this development is due to the NHL expansion. I think a truer reason is the growth of youth programs.

The NHL doesn't drive youth hockey. IMHO, It's the other way round.

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I think a truer reason is the growth of youth programs.

I am not so sure about this. For a kid to get interested in hockey, they have to be exposed to it at some point (via parents, tv, live game). Then there needs to be a viable means to skate / play. I grew up in Yardley (before it became snobbish) and had a friend that exposed me to hockey. My back yard was the Delaware Canal, so we would play shinny there or on Afton pond. I had to work two paper routes to be able to join a team / league. My father matched every dollar I earned to pay for the equipment and league fees.

My point being is that you need to have exposure to hockey and the accessibility to play. When the NHL moves into non-traditional markets, it does give exposure (the same as AHL, ECHL, etc.). Then you need to generate enough interest where investors are willing to build hockey rinks (particularly in the non-wintry climates).

The biggest issue for me and I don't have a viable solution, is that hockey is damn expensive to play and that immediately starts excluding a large number of kids from having the ability to get into the sport.

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The biggest issue for me and I don't have a viable solution, is that hockey is damn expensive to play and that immediately starts excluding a large number of kids from having the ability to get into the sport

Yup, and it's getting worse.

When we built our arena, memberships were $25.00 per family. That entitled every kid in a family a spot on a hockey team, figure skating and public skating passes. If someone didn't have the $25.00, I had a fund that we could tap. Nobody knew who those families were, except for me. Hockey players got shirts and socks. Midgets got shirts, socks and pants. We had goalie equipment available if needed. Northland donated sticks. I was able to keep the fees at $25.00 for a number of years.

I know that's not possible anymore. But, we sure had fun.

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@blocker

There are beer leagues around here that charge players extra per person and the money goes to paying for kids who can't afford to play in their first few years. I think all beer leagues should do it. It's getting so expensive a lot of parents would rather have their kids play (gasp) soccer. That doesn't bode well for the future of the game.

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