Placement sessions are designed to determine rosters for the following season, and are held in mid-March. There are no placement sessions for the Little Devils Learn-to-Play Hockey program or at the Midget level. Team placement for these groups are carried out by coach recommendations, and subsequent board approval.
Placements are the process of determining the best fit for players, teams and the SMS organization to maximize player development while having fun. Players develop at different rates and there are no set formulas. Some players will develop the most from being one of the top players and driving the team flow. Some players will develop the most from being one of the lower players, having to step up their level of play. The highest level team is not always the best fit for a player. The goal is to build teams that consist of players with similar abilities, in a competitive atmosphere, while fostering skills development, and helping to mold quality individuals that will have the confidence to succeed in all aspects of life, not just hockey.
Our placement format consists of skills sessions and a scrimmage. Skills sessions are where the player can demonstrate their hockey skills through skating, passing, shooting, puck handling and competitive drills. Scrimmages allow the player to demonstrate their hockey sense and team skills in a realistic environment. All players will attend one skills session and at least one scrimmage session. Most players will attend at least one scrimmage, enough to be able to determine their proper placement, as well as to help show the appropriate level of the other players in their age group. Absence or requested attendance at a particular session is not an indication of team placement, just part of the process. The number of scrimmage sessions is determined by the number of players in an age group, allowing all players to have ample opportunities to demonstrate their skills.
Player Evaluations from this year’s coaches are part of the placement evaluation process for understanding a player’s hockey skills, team skills, commitment, and “coachability”. Each coach will rate and rank the players on their team based upon the criteria of the SMS Player Evaluations document which can be found on the documents section of the SMS web site. Input from all the team coaches will be used to generate a rating and ranking for the players on that team. All the coaches in an age group meet to generate age group rankings to complete player evaluations. SMS philosophy is that the coaches learn more about a player over the season than can be learned during placement sessions. Placement sessions are important, but they are not the only criteria used in creating team rosters. Placements enable SMS to normalize player rankings across teams and across age groups, something beyond the scope of an individual coach’s consideration.
The results of the placement skills and scrimmage sessions, along with player evaluation input from this year's coaches are used by the board to determine team placements for next season. Actual numbers of players on teams can be determined based upon talent levels or based upon numbers. Talent level determinations are groupings of players with similar abilities or perceived potential development. Number determinations are to allow ample playing times for all players to develop. At the higher levels such as Bantams, player positions such as offense or defense may be a factor in determining rosters. Two or three lines is the best for development, more than three lines can be a detriment to development, with the actual size determined based upon the number of players in an age group. As hard as SMS tries, there will be cases where parents and players disagree with their placement. Parents may request a re-evaluation to the Board. All re-evaluation requests must be made before October 1st. Often there is an “overlap” of kids with comparable skills that span two teams, and the distinction between who is above or below the cut can be a subtle one. In some cases it may be the feedback from last year’s coach that made a difference. In other cases it can be a player’s performance in tryouts. And there are cases where a 1st and 2nd year player in an age group have similar skills, and the 2nd year player is often, but not always, given the advantage based on the intangible value of the extra year of experience.