Tuesday, December 09, 2008

2 Sport Stars

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune wrote a feature on Zach Budish's knee injury, suffered during football season, that will keep him from playing hockey his senior year.

Minnesota coach Don Lucia set off the internets with a quote saying he would advise hockey players against playing high school football. From the article:
""I have never discouraged or encouraged [playing football], but that may change now in light of what happened to Zach and what happened to Garrett, too," said Lucia, who also watched recruit Garrett Smaagaard of Eden Prairie miss his senior year of hockey after tearing his ACL in the 2000 Prep Bowl."
...
"Just weeks after Budish's injury, Lucia received a verbal commitment from an athlete who played both football and hockey.

"We had a talk," Lucia said. "I said, 'It's time to be a hockey player, not a football player.' He agreed and he's not going to play football next year.""
Said athlete would be Mahtomedi's Ben Marshall, for those that were curious.

Anyway, you can read the criticism in the comments of the article, or, if you want something a little more intelligent and grammatically correct, Bruce Ciskie had a rebuttal for the College Hockey News Blog.

I will say two things in defense of Lucia. First off, Lucia received a fair amount of criticism earlier this year--here included--for a quote in the Star-Trib about Minnesota never giving up a home game to play in an event like the Minnesota Hockey Showcase, when in fact, at least by that Saturday, his opinion was drastically different. Maybe he changed his mind, or maybe the quote was out of context, who knows. Not that this is an attack on any journalist in particular(the two articles were written by different writers anyway), but things do get misinterpreted sometimes.

Second, it's not hard to see why he might feel that way. He mentioned the Budish and Smaagaard injuries. Mike Forney's hockey career may have been a little less rocky had he not missed time and been so beaten up by football.

But at the same time, Lucia is also one of the more outspoken coaches on the issue of early commitments, and reportedly not a huge fan of 'family advisors' especially after debacles with Kyle Okposo and Phil Kessel, but I don't think you can play it both ways. You can't say 'we should let kids be kids' and then turn around and say 'you need to focus solely on hockey' If a player has to make a "career" decision that early on, they should also be able to make the wise hockey decision by locking down a scholarship early on, and getting professional advice on what his best for him as a hockey player.

Bottom line though, is that it is Lucia's program and he has the right to run it the way that he wants. There is a lot of pressure attached to playing and coaching at Minnesota. Look no further than about 11 months ago for evidence. By committing to the University of Minnesota, a player becomes a part of the team(more or less), and I think it's fair for Lucia to make sure a player's priorities are in order upon doing so. Minnesota isn't the only hockey program out there, and perhaps other programs would feel different. A player that still wants to play football wouldn't have to make a commitment to Minnesota.

Minnesota sets a very high standard for itself, and there are certain obligations that come along with that. There's nothing necessarily wrong with playing multiple sports, but if a player wants to commit to play at a big-time college hockey university, they should probably commit to being a big-time hockey player too.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ask Matt Niskanen if Lucia has never discouraged somebody from playing football in high school...

BrettB in STL said...

If I were a 2 sport athlete in High school, and I committed to playing hockey or whatever sport. I'd be committed to that sport. I see no wrong in asking a player who's committing to the team that they commit to the sport.

I guess when you become a professional player can you go back to 2 sports like "Prime Time" "MJ" and "Bo Knows"... Oh wait they all failed miserably..

Anonymous said...

I agree Brett, furthermore, Zach Budish was going to be a first round pick. Now say what you want about playing sports you love, but if it meant getting hurt and not being able to play your first love then its hard to justify playing. I think kids should play as many sports as they like but it gets to a point where if you are commited to playing one sport at a very high level in the future it might be in your best interest to stay away from full contact, injury intense sports like football.

However, in the long run Zach will prolly be fine. Lucia prolly shouldnt have come out saying that, even though it woudnt be a bad idea (in his position) to lean on his recruits to focus on hockey.

Anonymous said...

c'mon, this is a no-brainer; I know nothing about Lucia or how he runs his program (except that it's a wee bit short sighted, if not arrogant, to only recruit MN boys)but if you verbally accept a D1 scholarship, you are mindless (and selfish) to put your self at risk in a sport like football. For 98% of families and coaches, your word is your bond, so as a practical matter, you become part of the team when you make that verbal commitment. Accidents can always happen (or you can run into a juiced up wolverine wrestler/football wannabe), but there's very little upside to the exposure in trying to be a super stud at your high school.

Anonymous said...

My opinion is those that are the blue chip recruits, and those that receive the bigger scholarships, should be asked to commit themselves strictly to hockey after the point of committing to a hockey program. It is difficult enough in today's time to gauge player's time lines, especially those projected as high draft picks, and to have a potential risk of injury from playing a high-risk sport, to me, is a really a no brainer. Whether people like it or not, future players do have a certain obligation to a program given that there are getting financial assistance for their education (which isn't cheap regardless of where a player is at). I know Ben Marshall was a recent recruit that plays football - what will be the future for Mark Alt at Cretin?

Anonymous said...

I've heard Lucia many times in interviews say that kids should play multiple sports and not play hockey 365 days a year. And I agree with that. I don't think he should flip flop on something he honestly believes just because of what happened to Budish.

Anonymous said...

In my mind, I think as great of an athlete that Mr. Budish is and sounds like he's an equally great kid, that it was somewhat reckless on his and/or his families part, to even consider playing football this year. I know how important the high school experience is and individuals should enjoy it as much as they can; however, if an athlete as talented as Mr. Budish is and who demonstrated his commitment to the sport of hockey by accepting a scholarship to Minnesota, as well as being projected as a first round draft pick this year, if he were my son, I think I would've weighed the ramifications of playing football a little more carefully and probably advised against it. We aren't talking about a lot of multiple sport athletes who have as much invested and online as players like him. Just my two cents...

Anonymous said...

Hey Brett in STL, how was Bo Jackson a failure? He was an all-star in baseball and a good RB w/ the Raiders. The major hip injury or whatever it was ended his career, but he was far far from a failure before that occurred. "Prime Time" wasn't really a failure either, he was a decent baseball player for a few years and a good DB (for the most part). Jordan now that is a different story, baseball didn't work out well for him.

Anonymous said...

LUCIA is a putz. thinks he rus the state of minnesota and only bitches when it happens to him like a baby. poor lucia and then add the team and their gods gift to world fans. whatb a joke he is and his thoughts. players can do whatever they want. these players cominng to play for the goofs can go play anywhere else they want and still play football if they choose. glad to see lucia is running 16 and 17 yaear olds lives..

Anonymous said...

After reading Ciskie's comments, if this is an example of his logic, it's easy to see why he was let go. First of all he uses a single example in an attempt to prove something which is unprovable. Matt Niskanen is a better person because he played three sports in high school. Why not not say Kevin Quick stole a Michigan teammates credit card because he was three sport athlete in high school? Neither of these suppositions can be remotely substantiated let alone proven.

"To me, coaches who try to steer their recruits to a single sport are afraid. They’re afraid that the kid will start to like a different sport and want to play that instead."

This is nothing, if not silly. A kid with Div 1 Hockey scholarship is going to quit and what, walk-on in another sport?

Still not satisfied, Ciskie compares playing football to driving a car. One, most people in this country need to do. The other is an optional activity which is pretty dangerous. Football has by far the highest injury rate among major sports.

"The overall (i.e., practice and competition) injury rate in all sports combined was 2.44 injuries per 1,000 athlete exposures (Table). Football had the highest injury rate (4.36 injuries per 1,000 athlete exposures) followed by wrestling (2.50), boys' (2.43) and girls' (2.36) soccer, and girls' basketball (2.01)." cdc.gov

I'm also sure that discouraging an activity is not forbidding or banning it.

I think that there has been an attempt to characterize Lucia's approach as cookie cutter. It seems to me he is addressing future possible draft picks, not kids like Drew Fisher or Joey Miller. Recruits like Budish, Leddy, and Marshall might want to think more than twice about participating in dangerous activities. In the end I hope Coach Lucia does what he feels is right for his program and the kids he recruits. I'll take his judgement over the nattering nabobs of negativity of the blogosphere.

Anonymous said...

Legit Question; What is Lucia's stance on early commits? I am curious, serious answers, please...

Anonymous said...

Lucia the flip-flopper...sounds like a politician. Oh wait, he supported the political guy who got his arse handed to him...nevermind.

Anonymous said...

I think Forney's injury came during the state hockey tournament, unless there was an earlier football injury I've forgotten about.

Anonymous said...

Lucia needs to recruit more Canadians. Do you think a Canadian would choose Football over Hockey? No Chance.

Anonymous said...

If a college coach is so concerned a high school kid might want to (god forbid) play two sports, then he shouldn't recruit the kid.
I don't think a college coach has any right telling a high school kid what sports he can and can't play.
Kids become better athletes by playing multiple sports and no focusing on one, not to mention there is a chance of injury in any athletic activity.
To me this sounds like Lucia whining because a player made a decision he doesn't like.
No one would care if he wasn't a talented player and this happened so I don't see why Lucia has any right to bitch.

Anonymous said...

Did Lucia commit an NCAA recruiting violation by commenting on an unsigned recruit?

RR said...

Bruce Ciskie=Drama Queen

BrettB in STL said...

Anon at 5:23:

Sorry, if you read my comments, its merely my opinion, I simply pointed out the Greats in 1 sport, that tried out another sport. Now those were PRO's who'd obviously established themselves previously.

Many athletes like to play 2 sports to keep in shape for their main sport (mainly building strength while having fun) but a lot of them see the big picture. Some realize they are better at 1 sport over the other, and those that don't know which one, are the one's still playing. Heck, the STL Post Dispatch just wrote an article on 2 kids that haven't decided which D-1 School to go to yet, and which sport to play..

Hockey is a lot different, as its the only Pro Sport where 18 yr olds routinely get drafted, and play right within 5 months. Therefore there is a bit more pressure for the kid and his parents to determine what route to go.

Baseball, hell you'd be lucky to play in the MLB when you're 24. Football-21, Basketball getting closer, but KG and Lebron, and others were a rarity.

USAFA Bulldog said...

Let the kids play two sports. If they want to focus on one sport so be it, it's their choice. Removing choice from someone, especially someone so young, just seems like a very bad thing.

They might gain things in the other sports that may give them a leg up on other players in that sport.

I seem to recall someone saying (about Kasey Keller) one reason why American keepers are liked so much in the English Premiership is because they played other sports, which helped them as keepers.

Anonymous said...

""Did Lucia commit an NCAA recruiting violation by commenting on an unsigned recruit?""

Could care less about the topic, but that's a very good question.

Anonymous said...

I see highly touted Trey Keenan 94from Texas has quit hockey to play football.