Last week we made mention of the press release announcing the NCAA hockey coverage that is about to start on Rogers Sportsnet. In the release there are comments attributed to Boston University head coach Jack Parker (pictured) which are clearly shots across the bow of the CHL.
TPS pal DJ Powers of Hockey's Future made an interesting contribution to the comments of that blog post, let me take a few sections of that to show what I'm talking about.
"I lost a lot of respect for Unice when he reneged on his NLI to Bowling Green so that he could go play in the OHL. Frankly, I don't care where Unice decides to play, but if he wasn't absolutely sure that he wants to go the NCAA route or had some reservations about honoring the NLI, then he shouldn't have signed and submitted one in the first place. I'd have more respect for him, if he merely gave BGSU a verbal agreement. Verbals are non-binding and are broken (or changed) all the time. I would love to see the NCAA close this NLI loophole because it puts teams in a bind when players reneg on them, especially when it happens near the start of the year, as was the case with Unice."What DJ's thoughts here made me think of is the growing trend of players who express a desire to play NCAA hockey possibly to alter the outcome of their CHL draft - basically telling teams "hey don't draft me, I'm going to college" and then waiting for the CHL team they're actually wanting to play for to swoop in and select them later than they are rated.
Here's a link to Nathan Fournier's World of Junior Hockey blog that recently had an interesting tidbit on the subject. Some of the stuff that is quoted there is second, third and perhaps even fourth hand information so keep that in mind but if the London knights actually are doing what it says there... that's some dirty pool isn't it?
Speculation is that's basically what happened in the case of Brampton Battalions forward Matt Duchene who had verbally pledged his allegiance to Michigan State. Four players were chosen ahead of Duchene in the 2007 OHL draft including Ryan O'Reilly (Erie), Taylor Hall (Windsor), Casey Cizikas (St. Mike's) and Zack Kassian (Peterborough).
If it's true that Duchene's grand plan was to announce a verbal commitment to the Spartans simply to help ensure that St. Mike's (for example) didn't draft him, well then his plan worked. A month after the OHL draft he informed Michigan State that he was going to renege on his commitment to play for them.
Interesting that in the same draft, Ethan Werek was chosen 9th overall by Kingston and like Duchene, had also committed to the NCAA. What's very interesting to note in this case though is that even after the OHL draft, Werek and his parents were quoted in print saying things like:
“We had a lot of calls,” he said. “Ottawa, Owen Sound, Oshawa and others. We told them all the same thing; that Ethan was going to the NCAA. We’re 100-per-cent committed to Boston University.”
That damning story can be found here.
Did you note which NCAA program Werek had committed to? That would be coach Jack Parker's BU Terriers.
I've been looking but so far haven't been able to determine whether or not Werek had signed anything with BU or if his commitment was still of the verbal variety. If someone knows, perhaps DJ has that info handy, please leave a comment to tell me.
I personally still think the NCAA's opinion that the CHL is a professional league is ridiculous especially when Jr. A leagues like the BCHL and AJHL are not held to those same standards. Players get paid in either Major Junior or Jr. A... they just do. Some get paid beyond their weekly stipend, some get educational kickbacks beyond the schoalrship packages provided by the leagues, and some might just get bonuses or gifts on top of the rest. But it happens in both levels and the NCAA's blind eye policy to Jr. A is ludicrous because of it.
The NCAA could help itself by allowing players who have CHL experience to still retain their NCAA eligibility. MOst collegians don't hit the NCAA until they're 19 anyway... so a 16 or 17-year-old OHL player should be able to try his luck in the CHL and if he finds it's not right for him then he could pursue a NCAA career.
What would be so wrong with that?
(photos courtesy: Boston University and the Ontario Hockey League)