Yet again another Michigan Hockey commitment has defected to the OHL. Defenseman Connor Carrick is not the first person, nor will he be the last. It isn’t always the OHL that is at fault, as the QMJHL and WHL have done just as much. It drives me literally insane when kids who are committed, decommit during the SUMMER before they are supposed to end up on campus and go the CHL. I understand that these kids need to do what they think is best, but I think a major, major reason is that most of the NHL teams that pick these kids influence them to leave. The biggest issue here is that this scholarship is burned for the next year and Michigan or another school cannot go out and add another player. A player that would feel happy and blessed for an opportunity to play college hockey, and not one that thinks he is entitled to the opportunity. Carrick is a 5th round pick of the Washington Capitals, and I could sit here and spew statistics about the probability of success for a player to make it to the NHL from being drafted in the 5th round, but that would be wrong. Statistics and probability of success do not apply to the NHL draft like they do with the NBA or NFL Drafts. The players that are picked are typically 18 years old and they haven’t finished developing yet. Carrick could develop into the best defenseman in the entire draft; highly unlikely, but still probable given the Long Term Athlete Development in hockey. Each athlete is entitled to their own shot, and no two players are the same, so you should try not to group them together in such a general manner.
That being said, in order to counteract these defections from continuing to happen, I truly believe that once the players sign a Letter of Intent and take up a scholarship for that school, that they need to pay a fine in order to compensate the school for what they did. I think repaying the school for at least one year’s tuition would be the way to go, because they have used the school’s scholarship for a year. If they leave after that initial year on campus, then I don’t think there should be any punishment, but they need to stop screwing school’s over. I would rather kids never sign a LOI and go to the CHL, than sign and never show up. I am okay with Jack Campbell going to the OHL, because he told Michigan in January that he was decommitting; long before he would have signed any LOI. I am completely not okay with John Gibson, Trevor Lewis, JT Miller or Carrick and others, because of the predicament that they put the Universities in and the fact that they ruined a scholarship. Realistically, these defections will never stop until there is some sort of punishment for screwing a school over like this.
And don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the CHL or think that it is an inferior route to the NHL, I enjoy the Memorial Cup a great deal, but I believe that this cycle needs to stop. The CHL faces zero punishment for luring these kids away, and neither do the agents or “family advisers” that tell them to back out of their commitment. There needs to be some sort of system that holds these people accountable for their actions. Otherwise the system will continue to keep itself going, year after year. The NCAA has no power here and no way to defend themselves, and this is exactly what a monetary fine could do for them. Force the kid that does not honor his commitment to reimburse the University and let’s see how many kids sign that LOI with no intent of ever ending up on campus.