In recent years, more has been expected of not only younger players in hockey, but also of agents. Ken Campbell recently wrote an article about how hockey agents in Canada are trying to recruit children as young as 12 because of the steep competition.

The NHL is different from the NBA, NFL, and MLB in the source of its draft. Last year, the majority of drafted players in the NBA, NFL, and MLB were from the NCAA, while the NHL has more variety in its draft picks. In Canada, the Canadian Hockey League (CHL), helps supply the NHL with draft picks. The NHL also includes international players, like players from Russia or Sweden, in its draft.

The MLB draft eligibility only includes residents of Canada and the United States including the territories of the United States. Residents also include a person enrolled in a high school or college located in the United States.

This problem of drafting young children does not affect the NFL, MLB, or even the MLB, the same way it does since the NCAA plays such an important role in providing players for those league.

The NCAA rules do not allow for a player to be represented by an agent. This would limit how early an agent can get involved with a collegiate player. However, CHL players are not limited the same way, meaning agents will try to represent young children.

One answer may be for the NHL to place an age minimum, or a player has to wait a certain amount of time before being eligible. Both the NFL and NBA have restrictions like this. The NFL rules requires at least three years out of high school and used up college eligibility. The NBA rules require at least one NBA season to pass since high school graduation or would have graduated.

The other alternative is for rules to be put in place by any number of effective organizations. The CHL or any of the leagues that make up the CHL, the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), or the Western Hockey League (WHL) may put in place rules to be eligible for them. The NHL or the NHL Player’s Association (NHLPA) may also be able to put in rules that prevent representation for a player before turning a certain age.

However, this behaviour of going after young children to represent them is a problem that should be rectified soon.

Canadian Olympians Natalie Spooner and Hayley Wickenheiser, the two women in the back, have helped to grow the place of women in hockey. (Beth Bowers)

For the longest time, I have loved hockey. I grew up in Canada, so it was in my blood to love the sport. However, for the longest time women were not visible in the sport at all.

At the NHL All-Star Game at the end of January, the NHL and LA Kings, hosted a “Women in Sports Business Panel.” It brought together prominent women from a multitude of backgrounds. On the panel was:

Alyssa Milano, who created a line of clothing that was more flattering for female sports fans, but not pink;

Helene Elliott, a long-time sports writer who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as the first female journalist;

Susan Samueli, owner of the Anaheim Ducks;

Heidi Browning, the recently-hired Executive Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer of the NHL, who said she is going to look at marketing sports specifically to woman by connecting with more personal stories but not “dumbing it down” as Milano added;

Angela Ruggiero, one of the best American hockey player as a 4-time Olympian and a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame;

and Kathryn Tappen hosted the panel, works for NBC Sports as a host and reporter.

These women discussed their experiences as they broke into their respective industries. They all emphasized speaking out and just trying to pursue your dreams. Ruggiero, described learning how she had to deal in the “male-dominated world.” There were naysayers as she was trying to play hockey when she was child playing hockey on boys’ teams.

I liked how Ruggiero called it a

male-dominated world.

That is how I have always described. A lot of people don’t understand the difference between a “male-dominated world” and a “male-world.” I think it is important to help create less stigma and make it easier for women to be more involved in sports.

They also talked about how more women watch the Olympics in the United States than men. They suggested that more women watch because the Olympics broadcasts tend to tell more personal stories about the athletes than North American professional sports league broadcasts. It was unanimous by all of them, that there is still more room for growth in sports for women.

Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner, said it at the beginning of the discussion:

There are opportunities. You have to work hard for them. You have to follow your dreams. You have to have a passion. But anything is possible.

You can watch the whole talk here.