“The real problem is not that we are different, nor that we disagree and have conflict. It's that most of us automatically view conflict as something negative rather than as a tool God can use to help us better understand ourselves and one another.

--Robert Ricciardelli”

Saturday, October 28, 2006

NHL Rookie Issues

There are limits on how long a player can play before he loses his eligibility to play in juniors. And, there should be limits. You don’t want NHL veterans going back to overrun everybody in juniors. That would not be cool. The problem is there are some very good junior players getting drafted these days.

Let’s take a look at two: Jordan Staal of the Pittsburgh Penguinsand Marc Edouard Vlasic of the San Jose Sharks.

San Jose has already decided not to send Vlasic back to the juniors. Though he hasn’t been scoring, the Sharks really like what they see. On the other end of the spectrum, Staal, the Pens number 2 draft choice this summer, already has four goals. The Pens haven’t said what they are going to do, but Marc Recchi doesn’t want him to go back.

So, what do you do? Complaints have been raging—for years--about the dilution of the talent pool due to expansion. That expansion and re-alignment has been moving through the minor leagues, too. Even the Europeans have begun complaining about it. And, teams themselves are generally not helping. For example, the Canes recently traded prospect Jack Johnson after he announced his intent to finish college at Michigan.

Say what you want about expansion diluting the talent pool. Personally, I think greed has more to do with it than expansion. As long as there are no dis-incentives for players to develop more at lower levels, they will continue to move up—and teams will let them.

I am all for increasing the talent levels in professional and amateur hockey. I would love to see an amendment to the current CBA (…or an improvement to the next one…) that forces the issue—refusing to let players, no matter how good, move to the NHL without a certain amount of developmental time in college/junior and minor league play. (…say at least to the end of school, or whatever that would be for junior players…and two years in the minors?...what do you think?...)