In 2011-2012, there were over 150,000 recreational Adult Hockey players registered in the United States. The NHL dresses less than 1,500 each season. Therefore, it is important for youth and adult players alike to remember that recreational hockey is a big deal, and hockey truly is a life long sport.
Adults playing hockey in Minnesota is nothing new. The two largest organized adult groups are the Minnesota Wild Adult League operating out of the Schwan Super Rink and AHA Hockey which plays at multiple facilities within the Twin Cities metro area. Together those groups register over 5,000 Adult Men and Women in programs throughout the year.
Even with these impressive numbers, there are many adult skaters and organized events that are left out of those statistics because they do not register with USA Hockey/Minnesota Hockey. Tournament operators, pick-up hockey, and open skaters rarely, if ever, register. A few leagues that are run locally by rinks or city departments have no requirement to register. This is odd when you consider registering as a player with USA Hockey and Minnesota Hockey is the first step toward playing in a sanctioned event and realizing certain benefits.
Many adult programs that do not register are quick to discount the typical benefits of registering with USA Hockey and Minnesota Hockey such as liability insurance coverage, medical coverage, receiving the magazine, playing rules and enforcement structure, referees training and certification, etc. Adult players come to the conclusion not to register through solid reasoning when you consider: may already be registered as a coach, better insurance may be available through his/her employer, don’t want to travel to play in tournaments, and have local rules enforced by local referees which helps keep their fees down. All of those rationales are logical and hard to argue. Nonetheless, they completely miss the point.
At the very core, Minnesota Hockey and USA Hockey exist to provide opportunities to play the game of hockey. The registration fees in place support that mission. That money goes toward helping introduce hockey to more youth and adults, facilitates the development of our National Teams so that we have a hockey team to cheer for during World Juniors and the Winter Olympics, and makes sure our youth and coaches get the very best when it comes to training and development programs. The rest of the benefits are an added bonus to ensure players are safe every time they step on the ice and their experience is maximized.