Unfortunately, the USCHO article on Why Everybody Hates Minnesota came out about a week too early, because I think KFAN radio personality Jeff Dubay summed it up perfectly. On the radio today, they played back the tape of Dubay calling in to KFAN yesterday breaking the story that Okposo was leaving. You can listen it to here.
My favorite part:
"My interest in [college hockey] is waning fast. I like college hockey about 1/3 as much as I used to.That's right, Kyle Okposo is a bad guy because he quit on my team, so I'm going to quit on my team. As Bart Simpson would say, the ironing is delicious.
Garth Snow had some harsh words for Minnesota coach Don Lucia. Starting with:
"Quite frankly, we weren't happy with the program there," Snow said in a telephone interview. "They have a responsibility to coach, to make Kyle a better player, and they were not doing that."And then:
Asked for specifics, Snow said, "[Okposo] just wasn't getting better -- bottom line. And to me, that's the frustrating part. We entrusted the coach there to turn him into a better hockey player, and it wasn't happening. We feel more comfortable in him developing right under our watch."And for some reason, he kept talking:
"It's well-known in hockey circles that the situation for college players is to develop and get better," Snow said. "And quite frankly, it's a big responsibility for a college coach -- a program -- to handle these kids.And then he shut up because he was making an ass of himself....Oh wait, no he didn't:
"Whether it was Kyle or another player, until things change in that program we'd probably make the same decision. There should be a coach there that looks in the mirror."First, you can't mention Garth Snow on the internet without an obligatory link to that picture of him. Second, I'd take this a little more seriously if it wasn't coming from an organization that is a bit of a laughing stock. Third, I'm really surprised Garth Snow was that unprofessional on the record.
Snow makes himself look absolutely ridiculous with those comments, and makes himself, and Okposo look terrible. It's pretty obvious Snow only listened to one side of the story and made his conclusions from that. Snow has chosen to back a frustrated, immature young kid over a well-respected, well-established coach.
As far as Okposo, I think the timing of his decision was poor, but if he really felt that was what was best, I can't criticize the decision too much. I try to never put my hobby in front of someone else's career, and I think some Minnesota fans need to remember that. But at the same time, I question some of Okposo's reasons for leaving. Saying a coach didn't do enough to develop you is garbage, and if Okposo maintains that attitude, I don't think he'll go as far as he is capable of. No one besides Okposo is responsible for his effort on a nightly basis, and I think everyone that saw him play this year would agree that regardless of what position he was put in, he didn't do his best to help himself.
CSTV's Dave Starman disagrees with Okposo's decision to leave his team.
Elliot Olshansky thinks the mid-season departure might set a poor precedent. I've seen a fair amount of hand-wringing over this, but I don't think it will become a major trend. Okposo was obviously fairly unhappy with his situation in Minnesota. That's certainly happened in the past, though usually with players that don't have the same NHL options as Okposo. I think the large majority of players are loyal enough to their team that they wouldn't leave like that.
Brad Schlossman at the Grand Forks Herald points out that Okposo was pretty average without Tyler Hirsch in the lineup.