Sunday, December 02, 2007


Oh, if some media outlet really had the time to really turn an ace investigative reporter loose on the world of junior hockey recruiting.

It's not that it's greasy or dirty, but like hockey itself, there's so much that's buried beneath the surface. Like the NCAA, junior hockey is big business that is big because very little of the profits go to the labourers, plus it involves the Information Rich dealing with the Information Poor, teenaged hockey players and their all-too-eager-to-please moms and dads.

The story of Garry Nunn brings out all those elements. Nunn, 18 (a late '89 in hockey parlance, meaning he enters the NHL draft next summer), laced up last night for the Vancouver Giants, basically because his hand was basically forced. He already had a team, the Victoria Grizzlies in the B.C. junior league, and a scholarship waiting for him at Minnesota State-Mankato that he agreed to a few years ago.

Long story short, when Nunn was just 15 and attending the Giants camp, the team had him sign a letter of intent, promising that it would never be turned into the WHL. Somehow, the NCAA got a copy of it, and Nunn was faced with having to sit out an entire season in order to play collegiate hockey.

There's plenty of blame to go around for this, but it seems like the last thing that mattered was Garry Nunn's personal development as a player.

What's in a signature? (Sharie Epp, Victoria Times-Colonist; via Junior Hockey Blog)


Andrew Bucholtz said...

Really interesting story. Thanks for the link: haven't seen this one pop up anywhere else.

sager said...

Thank the man behind Junior Hockey Blog!

Dennis Prouse said...

You are too kind, Neate. The junior hockey recruiting game IS greasy and dirty. Really, though, I'm not sure what the parents expected. "Sign here, but we will never turn this in." Right - this ranks right up there with the cheque is in the mail, I love you, I'll pay you Tuesday, you're beautiful, I've never done this with anyone else before, etc. etc. Moral of the story -- if a kid is truly intent on going the NCAA route, then he should never go anywhere near a major junior team's camp, period.

When I read the particulars of this kid's story, though, I'm not entirely convinced he was looking to go to school for four years, at least not right now. If he is 18 already, still hasn't started university, and claims to want a shot at the pros, what were the odds that he was going to complete four years at Minnesota? Slim to none, if history is any guide. Much like basketball, most of the kids with pro skills and ambitions are lured out of NCAA before their eligibility is up. For all its faults, the CHL does offer kids one full year of scholarship (tuition, books, etc.) for each year played in the league, so if this kid does two years with the Giants, his first two years at least will be paid at a CIS school. (Many of the top prospects end up negotiating side deals with CHL clubs that cover more than that anyway.)

sager said...

Good points as always, Dennis.

One clarification: It's not unusual for the NCAA-track hockey players to hold off on when they go to the NCAA. Nineteen and 20-year-old freshmen from Canada are not unusual.

I've had a post in the hopper for The CIS Blog about the issue of UBC and other schools wanting to join the NCAA. South of the border is not the land of milk and honey it's built up to be; more practice time, less personal time, and you can run into issues with your academic credits, credentials not being recognized if you return to Canada.

Chris said...

Neate is correct. Because of Nunn's late birthday, he would have been the second youngest player in the NCAA this year had he been able to play. It was an option for him to go to college for this season, but only because he wouldn't have been able to play that first year.

As far as pro prospects, he is listed at 5'9" 170 lbs and wasn't listed as a Player to Watch by NHL Central Scouting, so you can draw some likely conclusions on his pro potential.