Partly to avoid enhancing their image as slave dealers, junior hockey teams should not be allowed to trade players.
Strong teams can be built through good scouting, drafting and recruiting. There's no reason to uproot unpaid teenagers — some of whom are attending school — during the course of a hockey season. If all teams abided by no-trade rules, they would be on equal footing.
More than 60 kids have been traded by WHL teams during the past month, culminating with a flurry of last-minute deals at Tuesday's deadline. Some will be disappointed, some may not report to their new teams and some may quit hockey altogether. OK, hockey isn't a sport for babies and this can toughen up an athlete. But these kids are not professionals. Their board and room is paid for, they get free equipment, they receive weekly stipends of about $100 plus they can have their college tuition paid.
Franchise owners insist junior hockey isn't a profitable business, so they can't pay their players and their business exists solely to prepare the kids for professional hockey. Then they should, at the very least, stop treating the players like slaves.
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