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."Said athlete would be Mahtomedi's Ben Marshall, for those that were curious.
"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.""
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.