Hockey Nerd

Fresh Look: MHR Overhauls Ranking Categories

As many in the youth hockey community have already noticed, for the first time in more than 10 years, MYHockey Rankings (MHR) has made significant updates to our ranking listings and categories for the 2020-21 season.

Most of the current updates affect USA Boys ranking categories. The ranking enhancements continue to be a work in progress, and we will roll out additional updates over the next few weeks. 

We have received an abundance of feedback on the changes; some of the feedback has been positive, while some of it has been, well let's just call it not so positive. Either way, both parties had the same question: Why? Before we answer, let's dive into a little MHR background story first.

MHR's founder, Neil, developed MYHockey Rankings 18 years ago, long before a vast majority of players who visit the website today were even born. It was simply a hobby. He did not know where this adventure would take him. He certainly did not expect MHR to blossom into what it is today. He simply set forth with two guiding principles in mind. First, he wanted to find a way to organize league, association and team information from around the web into one centralized informational database for the youth hockey community. That would make it easier to accomplish his second objective, which was to finally put his college mathematics degree to good use and develop an accurate rankings algorithm to help his son's team schedule appropriate-level competition.

The first rankings were released in 2002-03. It was a single birth year (1994, for those wondering) containing roughly 100 teams from mainly Midwestern states. There were no Canadian teams, no girls’ teams, no prep or high school teams, no junior teams and no college teams. But one thing led to another, and the hobby turned into a burning passion which brought with it a full-time commitment. Now, here we are today with more than 22,000 teams, 2,700 associations, 4,000 rinks and 250 ranking categories in the system. Much has changed over the years; however, both of our founding principles still hold true today.

Now back to the specific updates and the why behind them:

Update #1: MHR broke down rankings pages by age level and relevancy

Why?: MHR was founded as an informational database for the youth hockey community. While we have grown considerably since our founding 18 years ago, that remains one of our main objectives. The old main rankings page was becoming long and cluttered, which made locating information difficult. A major overhaul was needed to implement some of the other additional changes outlined below. We believe the new ranking format will provide more opportunities in the future for MHR to grow and expand our content offering, in return providing the youth hockey community with an enhanced viewing experience.

Update #2: USA Tier 1 and USA Tier 2 ranking categories will no longer be displayed for bantam minor age levels and below. USA teams, from squirt to bantam minor, are now assigned to a single general birth year ranking category instead.

Why?: Ultimately, the Tier 1 rankings below the National-bound age levels have been a point of contention for many years. Since MHR did not have access to official USA Hockey rosters, we were in essence playing the role of "gatekeeper" when deciding which teams qualified for the Tier 1 rankings and which teams did not. The situation was no longer sustainable.

While MHR's old Tier 1 rules were straightforward, fair, and effective, the "gatekeeper" role was becoming a very time consuming and difficult on our end. Between the hundreds of requests from teams asking to be moved into the Tier 1 rankings, our administrative team wasted tens, if not hundreds, of hours each season dealing with this issue.

A vast majority of the teams requesting to be moved were not eligible based on our Tier 1 ranking requirements, but for some reason our requirements did not seem to matter. MHR's friendly denial to place a team in the Tier 1 rankings almost always led to them complaining that MHR was ruining their season. The "Other teams won’t schedule or play us if we are not ranked in the Tier 1 rankings," and "We only scheduled Tier 1 teams who all dropped us from their schedule, so who are we going to play now?" type of complaints became very frustrating to deal with. 

Update #3: MHR added State and District rankings at the squirt, peewee and bantam age levels. These rankings contain all teams in a given state state at each respective age level. Please note that state and district rankings will not be birth-year specific. They will contain major, minor, and mixed birth-year teams.

Why?: The complaining above indirectly alerted us to a larger, systematic problem; teams were simply not using the rankings properly. If you remember, the rankings were originally developed to help Neil's son's team schedule appropriate-level competition and not to exclude teams based on the ranking category they were placed in!

Scheduling appropriate competition is key to fostering player development at any age level of youth hockey. We want to promote that aspect of the rankings! It was clear that a change was needed on our end. MHR had to find a better way to display and showcase the data. We wanted to provide users with relevant and new ways to view the information. We wanted teams to focus on scheduling appropriate competition to foster player development rather than worrying about which ranking category the team was placed in. The new ranking categories will provide teams and coaches with multiple different rankings to help them locate and schedule appropriate competition regardless of a team's tier, birth year or the number of "A's" after a team's name.

MHR greatly appreciates the youth hockey community's support and allowing MHR to play a vital role in the growth of youth hockey. We will always strive to make sure our platform is used in positive ways that better the game. We will continue to listen to the hockey community's feedback as we look for new ways to improve our website.

Please reach out to director@myhockeyrankings.com with questions or feedback!

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