It was reported Thursday that Alaska-Anchorage junior Mickey Spencer had left school without giving any explanation for his decision. TPS has learned that the initial report is only half accurate. While the Seawolves leading scorer has indeed removed himself from the team, the student has not in fact left school and that a return to the team is possible.
More on the situation after the jump.
In the wake of recent college defections of college players to the CHL, (Charlie Coyle from BU to Saint John and Cam Reid from St. Cloud to Portland), casual fans may have jumped to a similar conclusion when the news on Spencer came out yesterday. However, once you notice that the Edmonton-area forward is 22 years old you realize that can't be the case.
On Tuesday the Anchorage Daily News touched on Spencer's notable absence from the team's website but didn't shed any light on the reasons why either.
The Pipeline Show has learned that Spencer, originally from the Edmonton bedroom community of Gibbons, has stepped away from the team due to personal conflict with head coach Dave Shyiak. What exactly the details of those differences are is not known but ice time may be at the heart of the matter as the top scorer, TPS has been told, hasn't been used on the power play as much as he had been earlier in the season.
However, until either the coach or the player confirms the actual reason(s) that they are not on the same page, we won't know for certain if the above is in truth, a factor or the main reason.
Spencer, who is undrafted and likely not high on the radar of NHL teams, has wisely chosen not to leave college and will continue his academic studies at Alaska-Anchorage.
A return to active duty with the Seawolves is not out of the question but would take a meeting between player and coach and more than likely, a slice of humble pie for Spencer.
With a career high 7 goals to his credit this year, Spencer is a valuable part of the team but let's be honest here. The struggling Seawolves have a .389 winning percentage this year and their top scorers only have 10 points. It's not like they are contenders and the coach is guiding the team as he sees fit. There are 16 freshmen or sophomores on the roster so an argument can be made that this is a rebuilding year and the coach is spreading around the icetime to better the club in the long run.
It's also understandable that Spencer, a junior looking to earn a pro contract, wants to play more (again, if that's the issue here).
Hopefully the self-banishment ends sooner as opposed to later and everybody in Alaska can get back to focusing to hockey on the ice.