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While every effort is made to ensure that the teams selected are of relatively equal strength, the League deals with this issue in most divisions every season. As we note on the website: “Once teams have been selected some players may be traded in an attempt to equalize team strength. Team equalization will be done at the discretion of the Division Convenor and head coaches.”

We can assure you that if the League corps of volunteers could “wish away” one of its jobs, equalization would be very high, if not at the top of the list.

What is equalization?

Ideally, we would like all games in every division to be close. We would like every team to have a realistic chance of beating the other teams in its division. If after the season has started it is apparent that one (or more) team is markedly stronger (or weaker), equalization is the process we go through to try to rebalance the teams. Because Mite-age children are usually more interested in playing with friends (and what's being served up in the post-game snack), we do not equalize Mite teams.

Why equalize?

The High Park Ball Hockey League is a house league. For the stronger players who are so inclined, we offer an all-star program, with the all-star teams playing in tournaments and the provincial minor ball hockey championships. We do not aspire to be anything more than a house league, and we hope the kids enjoy their experience and want to return (and look forward to returning) next season - and the seasons after that. Let's face it, winning and losing games by large margins is no fun for anybody, and one of the League's central tenets is “fun”. Player movement between teams is in no way intended to punish anyone. These moves are done for the betterment of the division, so that as many kids as possible enjoy the season.

What is the process?

Prior to the season commencing, each Division Convenor assigns registered players to the teams in that division. After the season starts, he/she keeps tabs on the games and scores. If after the fourth game it is apparent that there is an imbalance that needs to be corrected, the Convenor will consult with the coaches to determine a plan of action. After an agreed plan of action is settled (i.e., which children will be moved) the parents of the players involved are contacted. The convenors, coaches and the members of the Board are all parents with children in the League, and we fully appreciate that moving kids around can be a difficult and sensitive issue.

When does equalization take place?

As noted above, equalization typically takes place after the second weekend of the season (i.e., after each team in the division in question has played 4 games).

What are we doing to minimize equalization?

We continue to take steps to try to minimize equalization. Coaches are asked each year to complete player evaluations, with the coaches required to grade each of their players, and those evaluations are used by the convenors putting together the teams in the subsequent year. We also ask for information on the skills of new players so that we have a sense of what we're dealing with.

A caveat

Frankly, selecting teams of equal strength is more art than science. Kids mature at different rates and every season sees the dynamics of a division change as half the kids move up to the next division and an influx of kids from the division below or who are new to the League. Kids with great ice hockey skills are sometimes at a disadvantage because they lack speed and fast kids with limited hockey skills can be impact players. In the end, we try to use all the tools at our disposal to try to achieve team parity.