So Sam Lofquist, sophomore defenseman, decides he’s had enough of Minnesota and leaves for the Ontario Hockey League.
In a vacuum, this is just another misguided player, upset with his playing time or something else, deciding to jump ship. Almost inevitably, these moves don’t work for the player. I think back to Nigel Williams, a USNTDP player who left Wisconsin for the OHL, and is still working his way through the minors. He may make it yet, who knows. Most of these kids are never to be heard from again, and would’ve been better off staying in college and getting training. This, of course, is the biased comment of someone who prefers the college game, but the evidence is clear — the trail of those left in development wasteland is lengthy.
The bigger issue for now, however, is what is going on with the USNTDP. There are so many detractors and supporters, vehemently arguing their position on both sides, but the detractors seem to heavily outweigh the supporters these days.
Many age-old questions remain … largely, what is the USNTDP supposed to be doing? If it’s supposed to be winning international competitions, results are mixed — though World Junior results have not been good, save the one gold medal.
If it’s supposed to be a place for channeling players to college, that is failing at an alarming rate. Lofquist is the fifth player from his class to bolt to the OHL, including Kenny Ryan, who left BC just before the start of this season after having already enrolled.
If it’s supposed to be a place to aid the development of American-born hockey players — and this, presumably, is the main mission — how well is that being served? There are so many cries of “politics” that we hear on a regular basis. Is it good to channel the 40 “best” U.S. players to that program, putting all the money there, at the expense of others.
If you recall, people like Brown coach Roger Grillo and Bowling Green coach Scott Paluch decided to leave college and help the USA Hockey system with the development of regional organizations. This seems like a good step.
I don’t know what Lofquist’s decision means, if anything. But I am interested in asking the questions and hearing the opinions.