Friday, November 30, 2007

Size Matters

Two prospective college hockey players chose to give up their NCAA eligibility this week in favor of playing in the CHL. There are many reasons that a player may choose to play hockey in the CHL, but it seems the first reason that always gets brought up north of the border is their success in sending players to the NHL.

I'm not intentionally picking on these two players, because I can think of countless other examples of similar players over the past couple of years, but both players were shorter than 5 feet 10 inches tall. What are the odds of a player that small making it to the NHL? If the current NHL is any indication, those odds are not very good. Looking at the current roster of every NHL team, there are a grand total of 17 skaters listed at 5-9 or less. Here is the list:

5-9
Eric Perrin
Darren Haydar
Derek Roy
Jiri Hudler
Brett Lebda
Mike Cammalleri
Scott Nichol
Jordin Tootoo
Sean Avery
Martin Straka
Niko Kapanen
Martin St. Louis
Mike Weaver

5-8
Sergei Samsonov
Chris Conner
Francis Bouillon

5-7
Brian Gionta

By my count, there are four Europeans, five CHL players, and 8 NCAA players on that list. Out of the 8 NCAA players, 7 of them played four seasons of NCAA hockey.

The fact is, if you're a player of that size, the NCAA clearly looks like the best option. Say what you will about the new NHL and size not making much of a difference, it's still incredibly rare for a player of that size to make the NHL. And while a player can make a decent living playing hockey in the minor leagues or in Europe, it's unlikely he'll be "set for life" if he's not playing a few years in the NHL. So why not try to earn a college scholarship and get a solid education and a four-year degree that can be put to good use as soon as your playing career is over?

Furthermore, I think the ability to play four years in college has helped a lot of those players develop more and make them the players they are today. Of course it's impossible to say, but if a player like St. Louis or Gionta was forced to turn pro at age 20, I think it's unlikely they'd be the player they are today. The extra years in a developmental setting really helped them.

I understand that everyone wants to chase the ultimate dream. But reality has to intercede at some point, and what may be the best route for some, isn't necessarily the best route for all players.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are implying that one is throwing away all edcuational opportunities by going to the CHL.

Are you not aware of the generous educational scholarships offered by the CHL?

Do you not realize that there are well over 500 ex CHLers playing Canadian University hockey and earning degrees?

Did you not know that there have been hundreds of former CHL players that have gone on to coummuity colleges and trade schools to become craftsmen, mechanics, computer technicians, policemen, fire fighters and paramedics.

I am sure you do know that the CHL is the premier develepmental league in the world.....if you didn't, just check out the latest NHL rosters and statistics.

Seems like the CHL is not only a good choice but probably the best choice one can make!

Anonymous said...

if college hockey were all about education than the argument you make could be considered, however, the fact that college hockey players aren't getting degrees in their four years at the university needs to be acknowlegded. Most of the top programs: Minnesota, Wisc., North Dakota aren't graduating many of their players, definitely not in the four years they have eligibility to play.

Anonymous said...

There are benefits to the CHL if you are a top line scorer, top D man or star netminder. Yes it will prepare these guys quicker for the National Hockey League if they are mature physically and mentally. E.G. Carey Price (WHL)Tri City - NHL(Montreal)

However, The marginal players on the CHL teams, generally do not go on after their CHL days and play Canadian University and there is nothing wrong with that.

NCAA offers 4 years of development mostly in a practice setting to work on skills, skating etc. If you are good enough, the NHL will find you earlier than 4 years.

Andy McDonald Free Agent in College now has a Stanley Cup Ring with Anaheim Ducks Blackhawks

Both avenues are fine depending on what your goals in life.

There are positive situations and negitive politics in the CHL and NCAA.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused. Are you now saying that if you really don't have a future in hockey then go NCAA, but if you want a real hockey career the CHL is the route to go?

Make up your mind.

The irony in the whole thing is the fact that all you repeatedly do with blogs like this is demonstrate that you are clearly uneducated on the CHL's education packages as well as the opportunities afforded in Canada at the many institutes for higher learning.

444 said...

Chris,

It is time for a NCAA vs. CHL blog round table!

Anonymous said...

If the NHL wants you they will take you regardless of stature.

Anonymous said...

You know when player's list their height they usually round up from an inch to an inch and a half. Showing mostly all the 5' 10" players out there are probably 5' 9". Size matters but the top players at each level are the smart, guys with great hands and usually small players.

Kevin said...

Cogliano was usually listed at 5'9.5", so I'd guess he belongs on here, too.

Jack said...

Patrick Kane, #1 pick in 2007 NHL entry draft and currently leading all rookies in points, is listed as being 5'10"

I have met him several times in the past year (while he played for the London Knights of the CHL) and I would be shocked if he is more than 5'8".

Anonymous said...

I can't believe how pro-NCAA people fail to recognize the CIS as an option.

In most cases, the CIS schools are at or above the academic standards of most NCAA D-1 hockey-playing schools.

Granted, the CIS doesn't have major media coverage of its hockey so its "out of site, out of mind" in most circles - a problem they need to address.

However, as mentioned, many top-end players who go to the NCAA always seem to leave early for the pro $$$ or return to the CHL for more ice time.

Somehow, the pro NCAA guys never realize that many CHL grads leave the CIS with a degree (a degree they can start up to 2 years earlier now while in the CHL).

Guess its a story no pro-NCAA person wants anyone to know about!

Anonymous said...

It really is a matter of what kind of experience the kid wants. A player goes to a team hoping to get the chance to develop his weaknesseses into strengths by getting a certain type of coaching or playing experience from a coach that believes in him or "has his back" while he gets the chance to unfold. In the mean time he wants a place that will showcase his strengths. D-1 or CHL?...its all team and player specific.

I made my millions, not as a player (because I was in at the top for only a cup of coffee) and not because of my college (undergrad) degree...because the field of my degree had nothing to do with my field of business success (and it ended up coming from a relatively unknown mid sized mid-west regional university that definately is no better than the colleges in Canada).

My (business) success came for the same reason that I mentioned above...I looked for the best opportunities that allowed me to develop my weaknesses into strengths in a way where my "back was covered" during the growth stage. But most of all I fought (ferociously) to continually put myself in a position to showcase my strengths.

D-1 college or CHL?...well, "who is going to have your back and wants you the most" seems to be the best question to ask.