Saturday, July 16, 2011

Can We Hold Off The Backlash A Moment Please

Think it is safe to say that JT Miller the New York Ranger's 2011 first round pick is not going to be a popular person in Grand Forks North Dakota.

If Ranger fans thought they were diehard fans then they should check out some of the Fighting Sioux faithful.

Wow you want to talk about some people who really need to be talked off the ledge then check out some of these comments from the report that Brad Schlossman wrote.

In a way I do feel the frustration and anger that North Dakota fans are feeling right now as 7 players who playing in the 2011 NCAA Championship Final left school to turn pro. Just as the Rangers gained Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh from Wisconsin after they played in the 2010 NCAA Finals.

But in a way it highlights a problem facing college hockey and that is getting players to stay in school. While so many are wanting to tar and feather the Rangers as well as Miller; what people are missing is why these kids are jumping ship.

Want to point a finger then look no further than the NCAA itself and it's very foolish rules that force kids to make life changing decisions as young as 15. The NCAA looks at any player in the CHL as a professional and thus makes then unable to play hockey at a US college.

If you think I was kidding about 15 I am not I am dead serious as a young player can suit up for a CHL team at that age but the moment they do then no college scholarship for them.

As long as JT Miller was attending North Dakota then the Rangers really were restricted in the amount of contact they had with him. Carl Hagelin and Max Campbell played their college hockey in the state of Michigan but the rules said that neither prospect could play for the Ranger Traverse City team.

Why because it would have been viewed as an extra benefit for the prospects If they attended then kiss their eligibility good-bye and good-bye college education.

It is the same about spending the summer at the Ranger's training facility would be seen as an extra benefit so nope can not work on your game there. But you can work out individually with pro players as long as it is not a team or organized effort.

Want to talk hypocrisy then while people are calling Miller greedy for what he chose to do but what should we call the upheaval in college hockey this past week then?

If you missed it, the schools that in other sports are members of the Big Ten Conference will be leaving the CCHA and WCHA in 2013-14 to start a hockey version of the Big Ten. With the addition of Penn State then it gives them 6 teams in a conference which would grant them an automatic qualifier for the NCAA tournament.

The Big Ten has it's own TV Network which means instant TV money and no longer will they have an excuse to not show hockey. Of course money drove this decision but that does not matter because the issue is supposed to some 18 year old kid who made his own choice.

And no less than a day before Miller made his big announcement North Dakota along with several other top hockey schools formed their own new super conference called the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

If you are a regular reader here then you already know that this group of "hockey powers" are leaving behind a large bunch of "have nots" so raise your hand if you do not think that money was not driving this decision.

Now I am going to acknowledge a dislike for the way Miller went about handling this as yes he bungled it big time. And it does tick me off that once again the moment something goes wrong in hockey that somehow it was the fault of the New York Rangers.

And I have a sneaking feeling that Miller might have done some damage to any chance he had making the USA Under-20 team this year. Oh wait hockey politics never play a part in those decisions (sorry sarcasm here) so we will see if Miller gets a shot.

Here is what really bothers me is while Miller is being seen as greedy and selfish then what does that make the teams that have bolted from the CCHA and WCHA? Think ESPN is going to offer up a pile of money to televise St. Cloud State vs Northern Michigan?

So can we please get off the high horses those of you "tar and feathering" Miller; maybe now you might know how a tiny school like University of Alabama-Huntsville feels trying to make a go of it as a division 1 hockey independent.

Which was better for Miller?

That is the number one question being asked on the day after. In many ways both the North Dakota program and the Plymouth Whalers have pros and cons that really make it a draw.

North Dakota- the long time traditional hockey power who have seen 144 of their players drafted by the NHL. James Patrick was the biggest name drafted by the Rangers.

Here is the list of those who played in the NHL including everyone's favorite Zach Parise.

Plymouth Whalers- Do not think those of you who were live in Hartford will like hearing that the Whalers are owned by Peter Karmanos, Jr. Yes the same Karmanos who took the Hartford Whalers and moved them to Carolina.

The Rangers have never drafted a member of the Whalers but have had several players on their roster who came from the P-Whalers.

The most notable Ranger (OK the one most of you will want to remember) is Paul Mara and current CT Whale John Mitchell played for the Whalers during his junior days.

In all fairness to Miller it would be wrong for me to say which program would be better since I have not spoken directly to him. He was not who I wanted the Rangers to draft but his stock improved when I saw the North Dakota commitment.

I am always a fan of a guy who stresses both sides of the ice which I knew that North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol does. Got to see North Dakota's run to the NCAA's last year and from Jan 1 until they lost in the NCAA finals felt they were the best team in college hockey.

On the Whaler side I acknowledge a lack of direct knowledge of the Whalers who are coached by Mike Velluci and my own experience watching the Whalers was this past season when Scott Stacjer's Owen Sound Attack swept them in the OHL first round.

Going to get a chance to talk with the Whalers once Miller becomes an official member of their team. I will say this for the Whalers is that they are a well established program run by a veteran team.

They are also the team that developed Tyler Seguin who I think is going to be one heck of a NHLer.

(Miller courtesy of USA Hockey)

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