Saturday Musings: Columnist Matt Mackinder
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On Saturdays, College Hockey Prospective is pleased to welcome voices, on a rotating basis, from around the world of college hockey on topics that have caught their attention. Matt Mackinder comments today on USA Hockey’s recent announcement of an US-based prospects game.
By Matt Mackinder, CHP Columnist April 28, 2012
While I applaud USA Hockey’s recent announcement of the All-American Prospects Game scheduled for this September that will showcase top 2013 NHL draft-eligible players, I believe USA Hockey is about 15 years too late with this event.
The Canadian Hockey League has staged a top prospects game since 1992.
I realize that USA Hockey is just trying to keep up with the Joneses, so to speak, but in my opinion, this event, scheduled for Buffalo of all places, is a sorry attempt to try and gain ground in the ongoing and never-ending “CHL vs. NCAA war.”
The USHL tried this concept in Muskegon back in January and there were definitely NHL scouts present and a grand total of two media members, myself included. As for fans, well, there were some for sure, but more empty seats than anything.
It was a great game and the players went all out, but it’s the old adage that if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around, does it still make noise?
Still, USA Hockey will try and get fans, media and scouts to Buffalo this fall to see American-born prospects. It’s a good idea, don’t get me wrong, but if all the pundits out there and all the true fans of college hockey don’t see this as nothing more than a ploy to try and even out the odds with the CHL top prospect game, then the Kool-Aid must have gone sour or something.
I’m as big a fan of USA Hockey and seeing kids get drafted and play college hockey. Seriously, I am. I just feel that if USA Hockey was serious about promoting the game to a country that knows very little about hockey in general, this game should have been created at least 10-15 years ago. At least.
Are there some high-end NHL prospects from the United States? You bet your butt. And will they all be in Buffalo? Probably. Will this game get more attention, press and notoriety than the ill-fated attempt in Muskegon? I would think so.
That said, if this is truly an “all-American” prospects game, why won’t U.S.-born players in the CHL be participating? Probably for the same reason that CHL kids are few and far between on World Junior teams and World Championship teams. It’s all about shoving NCAA hockey down our throats and dumping on the CHL, in my opinion.
Then again, who have been the World Junior heroes the two times the USA won the World Junior championship? Let’s see, that would be OHL star Patrick O’Sullivan in 2004 and another OHL kid, John Carlson, in 2010, along with Jack Campbell, who played two years in the OHL.
In any event, my hope is that this All-American Prospects Game is a hit and takes off and maybe rotates around the country like the CHL game.
I only wish I was writing this column in 1998 and not 2012.
See you in Buffalo!
Matt Mackinder has been in the journalism biz for 15 years and has contributed to such publications as Michigan Hockey Magazine, Rubber Hockey Magazine, Red Line Report, USCHO.com, MichiganCollegeHockey.com and Sports Review Magazine. Matt lives in the Flint, Mich., area with his wife, Stephanie, sons, Ethan and Wyatt, daughter, Madelyn, and dogs, Eddie and Max.