Tuesday, February 12, 2008

NCAA-NHL agreement on player signings?

Well, the NCAA would like one in order to stop the "poaching" which has occurred with two players this year. The first was Kyle Okposo (Minnesota to NYI), and the second Brock Trotter (DU to MTL) But, as they admit to the Denver Post, they have no leverage.

"There is no deterrent with us at all," Western Collegiate Hockey Association commissioner Bruce McLeod said. "We have to come up with a deterrent, whether you can't sign after the season starts, or even like July 15, because it's hard to replace a guy after that.

"But, of course, we can't deal with money. We can't impose fines like the IIHF. It has to be a rule like major junior."

In major junior, an NHL prospect learns his full-season status after the first 10 NHL regular- season games. He sticks with the NHL club or is sent back to major junior for the rest of the regular season and playoffs.

If an NHL club signs an IIHF player and that player does not play in the NHL, the team that signs him compensates the IIHF team up to $150,000.

"We have to inject some rules to protect college hockey," Gophers coach Don Lucia said. "(DU's) situation is a little different than ours (with Okposo), but we have to find a common ground. Other leagues are protected and ours isn't. . . . We don't hold any cards, and therein lies the problem. We don't have any leverage."

McLeod and the five other Division I conference commissioners are prepared to discuss early- or midseason signings with the NHL on Feb. 19 in Naples, Fla.


Johnny Sideburns said...

Many problems with the Denver Post article:

"NCAA hockey is one of three major development entities for the NHL..."

Simply not true. Much like football, hockey has been played at the collegiate level for a much longer time than a national professional league for the sport has existed. However, there has never been a "reliance" on the NCAA as a supplier of amateur talent in the NHL as there has been for the National Hockey League. The first collegiate graduate to make an impact in the NHL was (University of Michigan graduate) Red Berenson, and he didn't start playing until the 1960's. There are cases of college graduates being drafted and contributing to NHL teams, but to say that they contribute a significant portion of the NHL players in the league is not accurate; there are more Europeans than college grads in the NHL and probably always will be.

Also, hockey in the NCAA has traditionally been played by US-born kids traditionally frozen out of th Canadian Junior Leagues or by Canadian kids whose parents wanted them to receive a higher-level education (and if you believe Eric Lindros' biography, as a way to dodge an unfavorable OHL draft...although he never followed through on his threat to enroll at Michigan since his rights were dealt to Oshawa)...the occurance of potentially NHL-ready players enrolling in college and splitting early (like Paul Kariya at Maine or Jack Johnson at Michigan) is a recent (and rare) phenomenon...and usually it's not a case of a player being "poached" inasmuch as it is the player deciding that they're ready to play at the professional level.

Discouraging the players from signing pro contracts and forgoing their final years of NCAA eligibility when the NHL routinely signs teenaged players from Europe (and occasionally North America) would not be tolerated; anyone attempting to do that would be taken to court over "right-to-work" violations. And unlike Maurice Clarett's failed lawsuit against the NFL, the NHL has too many instances of college-aged kids being signed/employed.

The NCAA can't claim that the NHL "poaches" their hockey players anymore than they can claim the NFL poaches underclassmen who routinely skip their senior years for NFL glory/dollars. The players have the right to work where and when they want, and it is up to the players' coaches to advise them in the best interest of the players, not the coach or the college team's seasonal standing. Look no further than Coach Berenson's offer to "drive (Jack Johnson) to the airport" when he was ready for the NHL while at the same time making sure his players get their degrees in case they end up stuck in the American League.

Johnny Sideburns said...

Should've been:

"However, there has never been a "reliance" on the NCAA as a supplier of amateur talent in the NHL as there has been for the National FOOTBALL League."

My bad, sorry.