Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Great Read

As I sat in my living room this afternoon, I notice my brother gotten a new USA Hockey Magazine since the last time I was home. On the cover it had a picture of Patrick Kane but what caught my eye was "What's Behind Early College Commitments?" So I was eager to read that. The focus wasn't on Jordan Schmaltz who committed to Wisconsin last month but his commitment sparked this story.

A good indicator on how the landscape of recruiting has changed in the last 18 or so years is look at Jeff Jackson He's the current head coach of Notre Dame. In the early 90's, he was the Head Coach of Lake Superior State.

"He said that in his first tour as a college hockey coach, he’d never recruited a kid that wasn’t in high school, but after coming on board with the Irish, Jackson’s assistants in South Bend immediately encouraged him to attend USA Hockey’s Select 15 Festival."
I am some what surprised since was the coach of Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League. I don't know if he scouted the Select 15's when he was the coach of the Storm. If he did, wouldn't of he seen some college coaches there? At the same in the late 90's, the battle between the major juniors and college programs weren't as big as today.

Another point that hits home is Yale's coaches comments.

"Yale coach Keith Allain, for example, says there’s no way the admissions officers at his school would admit a student without a longer high school transcript and a good look at his SAT scores, meaning you won’t see Yale offering future roster spots to pre-high school players. But Allain’s not complaining.

“The playing field isn’t level anyway,” Allain said. “Every league and every school has advantages and disadvantages, and we’ve all got our own challenges. A kid’s favorite school at 14 might not be his favorite school at 18, and by making a decision that early, he might miss out on the opportunity for an Ivy League education."
Some good points made here. The Ivy League schools are at a disadvantage because they don't have athletic scholarships. Harvard has been able to land some high profiled recruits. This year they have Colin Moore and Ryan Grimshaw who both played for the National Team Development Program the last two seasons. They also have two of the Biega brothers from Montreal and Danny Biega, the third bother hasn't made a commitment yet. They also have two other Quebec players coming in. Alexander Killron will be at Harvard this year after spending the last few years at Deerfield Academy. Next season Louis LeBlanc will come in.

The second key point is a player's favorite team might change. The prime example is Nick Pyror who orginally committed to Wisconsin but a few weeks ago decommitted. He committed to Wisconsin when he was 15.

The biggest reason I think players are committing so early is because of the aggressive recruiting by the Ontario Hockey League and the Western Hockey League the last few years. I exclude the QMJHL because they only have ten players from the United States. Ron Rolston the head coach of the Under-18 Team had this to say about the CHL.

Ron Rolston, who coaches with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program in Michigan, credits the Major Junior leagues for doing a good job of selling young players on their system as the best route for their hockey development, at an age when NCAA rules still forbid much contact between colleges and young athletes.
At least he's giving them credit. This summer the NTDP lost a few battles this year to the Ontario Hockey League. With there agressive recruiting, it has led to this:

“Kids often don’t understand being in the present, and are always thinking about the next step,” said Rolston, who noted nearly every player on the NTDP’s Under-17 team already has a college scholarship locked up. “We often have kids tell us that they want to be in the NHL by the time they’re 18, and they’re looking for the quickest route.”
It's so true, so far there're thirteen kids on the Under-17 team that has made a committment.

I think there's no way to stop early college commitments. It will just be interesting to see who pans out and who doesn't live up to the hype.

That's My Take

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at

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