Saturday, August 16, 2008

Desire trumps talent in climb to the NHL

This is something I see over and over in covering prospects. But it's hard to demonstrate well, so I was glad to come across these two stories to show as extreme examples.

Contrast these players -- one a highly-skilled player with WHL teams competing for his services, and the other one a tough guy who was cut from his junior team. In the end, which one do you think will have made it?

The high talent with low desire:

[W]ith the bright lights of the Western Hockey League staring him in the face – not to mention the dream of a potential NHL career after that – highly touted prospect Brandon Regier has made a stunning decision to hang up his skates.

The 16-year-old Abbotsford product recently informed the Brandon Wheat Kings, who made him a first round bantam draft pick in the spring of 2007, that he doesn’t intend to play hockey this year – not in the WHL, not on any other junior circuit, not even in the local men’s league. And while Regier hasn’t completely closed the door on returning to the game, it sounds for all the world like he’s done with hockey for good.

“It’s never been my favourite thing to do in the world,” he told The News on Tuesday. “Everyone’s telling me they hope I change my mind.

“But I haven’t been on the ice since March, and I haven’t missed it at all.”

And the low talent with high desire:

I got on a bus when I was 17 to go play junior hockey and I actually got cut from the team. The next day, I showed up at practice with my equipment on and went on the ice and skated around with the team. The coach skated over to me and said, ‘Hey Archie, I thought I cut you yesterday?’ I looked at him and said, ‘You did coach. But that was yesterday!’ I went on to play 700 pro games.

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