Friday, July 29, 2011

Fix The System

As JT Miller signs his entry level contract with the New York Rangers; Miller still finds himself the target of some not so nice feelings because he backed out of his letter of intent with North Dakota.

Miller is not the only 2011 first round pick who turned his back on an NCAA school nor is Miller the only one being trashed for choosing to look after his own best interests.

If you think this is about what I think Miller is or did he make the right choice; I will be honest I can not say since I have never met or talked with Miller myself. Whether he made the right or wrong decision is not for me to judge as I only have scouting reports not an insight into why he decided the way he did.

Oh and the early signing is not going to help quell the rumors that the Rangers pressured Miller into backing out of his commitment to North Dakota. But that is the Ranger's problem not ours and to be honest it is hard to defend the Rangers against the rumors when the signing of Miller broke just about every prospect signing record under Glen Sather.

But what does bother me is while these 18-20 year old kids are being trashed for their choices that their is nothing being said about schools jumping conference. How about a coach who after being handed a nice fat contract extension until 2016 with a raise who resigns in the summer to take a job in the NHL?

Really if you look at all 3 different situations that in the end it is all about the MONEY. But it seems like a cruel joke that the kids are being trashed while the conferences who are leaving other schools in a bind are OK with what they are doing.

Why it is OK for a coach who recruited a class of freshmen to walk away from them for his chance at the NHL but not JT Miller? Now I am not begrudging Jeff Blashill for jumping at an offer by the Detroit Red Wings.

But the 10 freshmen that Blashill signed over the past year what happens to them as they signed on because of wanting to attend Western Michigan under Jeff Blashill? Instead they are going to be playing for his replacement Andy Murray and he might not use those recruits in the same way that Blashill would have.

Then those very same North Dakota Fighting Sioux are banding together with 5 other traditional college hockey powers to form a new conference now that the Big Ten has decided to form their own hockey league thanks to Penn State adding hockey in 2012-2013.

Never mind that being left in their wake are the smaller schools who better known as college hockey's "have nots." Ah who cares about the future of St. Cloud State or Ferris State when you can have your own TV Network like the Big Ten (actually the Small 6 since only half of the members play men's hockey) or have VS going after the newly formed National Collegiate Hockey Conference (North Dakota's new home).

And gee look at all the conferences throwing themselves trying to lure Notre Dame to join them when the new super conferences begin play. Money money money money got to have that money but not if you are an 18 year old kid.

See the problem with NCAA hockey is in fact the NCAA and it's rules. A kid who plays all of 20 minutes in an exhibition game for the Portland Winterhawks finds himself out not only a scholarship but he loses an entire year of eligibility transferring to another school.

Chris Kreider can not sit down with Gordie Clark or Glen Sather face to face to talk about why he wants to stay at Boston College. All it takes is for Sather or Clark to mention contract or money and guess who is no longer allowed to play for Boston College?

It is an insane outdated and almost dirty system that forces kids as young as 15 to decide whether or not to play for one of the 3 CHL leagues or play in a Junior A league like the BCHL in order to be allowed to attend a US college.

The moment that kid skates for a CHL team then the NCAA says "you are a professional hockey player" and there goes his chance to get a US college hockey scholarship. A prospect can sneeze wrong and there goes his NCAA eligibility.

And that is the problem because there are some prospects who really could have benefited from getting to attend an NCAA college like Ryan Bourque who prior to being drafted by the Rangers was going to attend New Hampshire in the Hockey East.

In many ways NCAA rules is what keeps NCAA hockey from growing because no longer can a program expect their top talent to stick it out for 4 seasons. Go back to JT Miller and his decision to not attend North Dakota.

A huge reason why so many North Dakota fans are angry at him is because of the team that went to the NCAA finals; they have lost their 2 best players to the professional ranks since the NCAA championship game and Miller was being counted on to replace one of those players who turned professional.

See if I was a fan of an NCAA hockey school I would be asking why teams are losing their best players to the professionals or to the CHL rather than blaming the players or the NHL. You can not keep saying it is greed or the evil NHL when the number of players leaving school early are increasing with each passing year.

For us the first change has to be that there needs to be a way to allow a 15-16 year old a chance to try the CHL before forcing him to make that choice. Seriously asking a child/teenager to chart his life's path at 15 or 16 is the biggest joke of them all.

Once upon a time (yes I know stone age) kids were not being allowed to date the opposite sex before they were 16. Now we are expecting them to choose whether or not to turn "professional" (NCAA talk not ours) so start right there.

Second change is this nonsense that the NCAA calls "advisors" as they are what they are which is player agents. Take them away and put mom and dad back in charge at least on the "technicality" side.

See we do that so a JT Miller would be able not to just attend the prospect camp but also the prospect training camp/Traverse City in the year they are drafted before being forced to decide whether or not to give up college.

And to protect the eligibility of the athlete while the NHL team can pay his expenses at the camp they can not offer him a contract until the Jan 1st after he was drafted. Allow a window where a college athlete can attend the annnual prospect camps without having to worry about breaking the rules.

It almost took an act of God before the NCAA backed off a time requirement that prospects had when they attended the NHL Combine. But it is this kind of mindset that continues to push kids like a Miller into the arms of the CHL.

And yes we would address a rather dirty tactic that we are seeing being done on the CHL side which is young prospects using the threat of attending an NCAA school to scare off teams they do not want to play for in the CHL. That happens a whole lot more than people realize and to be blunt it is why some teams have a lot of trouble getting out of their league's cellar.

That leads us to change number 3 to break that habit; the moment you say that you are considering attending a US college; enjoy yourself because for the next 365 days you will not be able to change your mind.

Max Domi, yes the son of Tie Domi was drafted by the Kingston Frontenacs in the OHL draft. But rumor has it that by hinting at playing in the USHL then Michigan rather than Kingston; Domi is going to see his rights traded to the London Knights.

Not under our changes because Domi you would either play in the USHL as you hinted or for Kingston. This is so teams like Baie Comeau in the QMJHL can keep a Nate MacKinnon who reportedly used his not being able to speak French to force a trade to the Hailfax Mooseheads.

If we are going to fix the NCAA why not also fix the CHL at the same time. It seems that the playing field needs to be leveled for not only the NCAAs but also the CHL and even the prospect himself.

Otherwise why not just skip the CHL or NCAA and go back to the days when NHL teams basically ran their own CHL teams for development. Cut out the middle man and go right to professional.

Canadian Summer Evaluation Camp

Christian Thomas and Ryan Strome got the invites to attend Canada's summer junior evaluation camp set for August 3rd-7th in Edmonton and Fort Murray. Thomas is the only Ranger prospect and Strome the lone Islander representative who have been invited to attend which starts the process of determining Team Canada's Under-20 team.

It is going to be interesting to see how these 2 scorers work with each other because while they may be on the small side both were at the top of the OHL when it came to scoring.

Strome was 3rd with a 33-73-106 for the Niagara IceDogs while Thomas finished 6th at 54-45-99. If these 2 are on the same line then whoever is playing against the is going have their hand's full.

Congrats to both as during the season they are conference rivals but together should be interesting.

(Miller/, Thomas/Oshawa Generals, Strome/Niagara IceDogs)

No comments: