Sunday, January 27, 2008

A word on hockey

Good news on the hockey front: the Badgers went undefeated in their weekend series against Minnesota. The kicker: Minnesota isn't very good right now, at least not as good as they've been since I've been paying attention.

Both Todd Milewski and Andy Baggot did a good job in their Saturday gamers describing why these teams have fallen off a bit from their pace at the beginning of the century. The reason: the NHL's collective bargaining agreement has made it more logical for teams to sign their draftees, which keeps them out of the college game.

I'm not an expert on these things, but off the top of my head I can think of these guys who have left Madison prematurely in the last couple years: Robbie Earl, Joe Pavelski, Jack Skille. The Gophers have been hit just as hard, if not harder. It's even money that Kyle Turris, who Wayne Gretzky made the #3 pick in the last NHL draft for Phoenix, will leave after this season.

So why is this hitting the Badgers and Gophers harder than, say Colorado College, Denver, or North Dakota? I can't say for sure, but it's probably a parallel to college basketball programs that recruit Kevin Love, O.J. Mayo, and Michael Beasley types - you hope to get one great, transcendental year out of them a la Carmelo Anthony. Meanwhile, programs recruiting three- and four-year guys are just consistently solid, like Badger basketball.

It seems that the Badgers, for all their struggles this season, are still in good shape to make the tournament, where anything can happen. Here's hoping Turris gets to raise a championship banner in Madison before putting on a Coyotes jersey for good.

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