team affiliation across leagues/farm systems?
Trying to better familiarize myself with the structure of some of the European hockey leagues, and I have a question about the league setup in Germany.
Basically I know that there's the DEL on top, the 2nd Bundesliga as the tier II team, and the Oberliga as the tier III team. I also know that there's a promotion/relegation system, or at least there is for the Oberliga/Bundesliga, and there should be for Bundesliga/DEL movement if not for some issues regarding the # of allowable foreigners on the roster.
But my question is how youth development and organizational depth is handled Basically, to draw a comparison to north america, do teams across the leagues form NHL/AHL/ECHL style "farm system" relationships where players can be moved up or down across leagues in order to get more time to develop or play more minutes against similarly skilled competition? Obviously teams moving up and down between leagues would make this more complicated, but when I look at several German-trained players, they seem to move up and down the leagues even within seasons, as you would expect in an NHL/AHL kind of setup.
For example, in the two years prior to being drafted, Christian Ehrhoff played for both Krefeld and Duisburg in the Oberliga. Would that imply that there was a working relationship between those teams? or do clubs just loan out players to other league teams wherever there's space?
Sorry for the kind of complicated question. Any help would be appreciated.
In the past there has been a more strict farm system in place, where changes between clubs where very simple.
Today, tight affiliations are the exception. Probably the closest thing to a NHL/AHl-like system is Adler Mannheim (DEL) and Heilbronner Falken (2nd tier), who have a very firm cooperation since 2004. Another example is Eisbaeren Berlin and Eisloewen Dresden. Sharks' draftee Dominik Bielke has been temporarily moved from Berlin to Dresden within this cooperation to give him sufficient ice-time. Most teams in the three upper tiers have some sort of more or less loose partnerships.
The technical part of the cooperations is handled via a construction called "Förderlizenz", a concept that allows a player younger than 25years to move without major restrictions between the two levels. Players are not being placed on waivers, so no other team can grab a talent for free. After January 31, any player this kind of double playing permit is only allowed to lace up for the lower club if he has previously appeared in at least ten games down on the "farm". In reality, there is not to much movement between the levels, however short term call ups occur.
The youth development programs within the club organizations are the backbone of the system. Many major clubs ice teams on an national level in all age groups, with the Deutsche Nachwuchsliga DNL (German Prospect League), which cover players up to the age of 18 years. There exists Juniorenbundesliga (Junior League) for the elder prospects, but the most talented youngsters usually move directly from DNL to the pro ranks.
To the promotion system:
They abolished the promotion system between DEL and Bundesliga 4 years ago in order to provide the DEL teams with a secure planning horizon. Despite this, the champion of the Bundesliga had the chance to move up to the DEL, as Wolfsburg (in 2007) and Kassel (in 2008) did. The 2009 champion, Bietigheim-Bissingen, decided to stay in the Bundesliga for financial reasons.
The main problem with this system was, that some teams which fell behind early in the season were lacking a goal, since they didn't have to fear to be sent down to the Bundesliga. As soon as they were way behind the competition, they started selling their best players and the attendance in the arenas went down.
The promotion system between the other leagues is still in place.
To the aspect of farm teams:
There are no farm team system like in North America. Every DEL team (which formally is a company) has to have a cooperation club. Since most DEL teams have been clubs before the corporations were formed, these cooperation clubs are these clubs. Look at Mannheim, for example: the original club, the "Mannheimer Eis- und Rollsportclub e.V." (MERC) was formed in 1938. In 1994 they formed the "Die Adler Mannheim Eishockey Spielbetriebs GmbH + Co. KG" (which is a corporation) to organize the DEL team "Adler Mannheim". The club "MERC" still exists and mainly organizes junior teams. But it works as the cooperation club for the DEL team, too.
This cooperation system is in place to secure the DEL teams interests in junior hockey. But the teams of these cooperation clubs mostly play below third-tier level. So the DEL teams are looking for cooperation partners in the Bundesliga and Oberliga. Most of these partners are corporations as well and work the same way as the DEL clubs, just on a lower level. Usually the teams try to set up a close cooperation, like Mannheim and Heilbronn, but they are usually not connected on a formal or financial level. To get back to your specific example, Ehrhoff played for Krefeld in the DEL and had a "Förderlizenz" for Duisburg who played in the Oberliga at that time and were Krefeld's cooperation partner. But beeing a cooperation partner can't be compared to being a farm team, because it's still a different team which acts autarchically. Duisburg for example made its way up to the DEL itself (before going down to the Regionalliga again this summer).
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