Everyone knows both John Tortorella and Assistant Coach Mike Sullivan threw tons of praise at Chris Kreider this past year and both coaches made it known via the media (Andrew Gross) that they would have liked Kreider to turn pro.
Soon thereafter, it didn’t take too long for Rangers fans to debate whether or not Kreider should turn pro after just two years of college. And after reading most of your comments during that time, it looked like things were pretty split.
Kreider certainly made a tough decision, a decision only he and his family can ultimately make. However, if I were his friend or his agent, I’d probably would have told him to go for it. He’s performed well while he has been at BC and he’s done great things at the international level.
He may not have had the sexiest stats, but he certainly has pro speed, pro hands, and most importantly a pro body (6’1 200lbs) that can probably handle the physical grind of 82 games against men. Ultimately what he’ll need to work on is his hockey IQ, which could have been better served under the tutelage of Rangers/Hartford personnel.
At college, especially a competitive one like BC, the emphasis can often be more about winning than becoming what it takes to be an NHLer. In the end Kreider made his decision to return to school, but there is a lesson in all of this for future Rangers prospects.
If education is the concern with these youngsters, you can always sell them on what Jack Johnson and Ryan Miller did and take classes during the offseason. The scholarship of course is gone, but hey your signing bonus should take care of that pricey education anyway.
I’d also push these kids to get their names on a contract for insurance reasons. In case there is some god awful scenario where someone gets injured and can’t play anymore, college will pay them zipo. If a kid gets injured while playing at the NHL or AHL level, he can cash out on a (seven) figure insurance settlement that would set them up for life (Dan Blackburn anyone?). I know that may sound trivial or anecdotal, but hang out around hockey rinks and front offices enough and you will meet more former standouts who got injured than one can count.
As far as whether or not the pressures of being a pro would kill their development ultimately depends on what’s going on in between the ears of these kids. Sure MDZ and Grachev have had tough times and moronic fans prematurely called for their heads.
But you know what? Ultimately, if they come out of it strong they will be better off for it. If you can survive New York City scrutiny, you can conquer anything. If you don’t believe me, ask Mark Messier. He had to slay the “dragons and demons” before ending the curse.
Get that sword ready Mr. Kreider, we will be seeing you soon.