The state of hockey? Maybe it’s Nebraska

If you want to be a hockey star, you can’t be too hung up on little things like family.

There are hockey factories, like Shattuck-St. Mary’s. But for the most part, kids have to play junior hockey in small towns across America and have to depend on other families for their families.

Grantland today looks at life in the U.S. Hockey League, whose franchises around the Midwest require families to take in the hockey homeless.

Families who sign up to billet go through a background check, speak with the coaches, and have their homes visited to ensure that the players will truly have a space — and a bathroom — to themselves.

Some families don’t want goalies (too headcasey) or high schoolers (too young). Some are empty nesters who want some bustle back in their lives. Others have children who idolize the new guy living in the basement or spare room.

When St. Louis Blues captain David Backes, the youngest in his family, was billeting in Lincoln with police officers Todd and Teresa Hruza in 2002-03, he suddenly acquired younger siblings — 3- and 5-year-old boys.