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Miscellaneous Friday News & An Overdue Wellman Rant

Just wanted to pass along a few random UMass things I came across in the past few days before the holiday weekend begins in earnest.

First is this article mentioning incoming recruit Eric Filiou and his summer goals before arriving in Amherst this fall.  It’s a few months old, but it’s the first I’d seen it and thought I’d pass it along.

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Second up is the news that Mike McKee, a defenseman playing prep hockey at Kent, has committed to Northeastern.  UMass was also going after the 6’4″, 230lb Canadian as was Cornell.  McKee will arrive on St Botolph Street for 2012.

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Lastly is this USHL.com Q&A with Casey Wellman.  A couple questions and responses jumped out at me:

When did signing with a NHL club start becoming a reality for you?

There were a lot of teams talking to me and it got kind of overwhelming.  I ended up saying that I would not talk to anyone until the end of the season so that I could focus on college. Towards the end of the season, my dad asked if I would want to make the jump straight to the NHL and I said “absolutely.”

Although it was your dream, how tough was it to leave school at that point to pursue your hockey career?

It was a big decision. I was giving up two free years of education and I have a lot of great friends at UMass.  It was a decision that wasn’t made in a few days as I had been thinking about it for a long time. With all the opportunities that came up and the chance I had, it was something I just couldn’t turn down.

First off, it is utterly ridiculous that NHL teams are allowed to have discussions with college players, especially undrafted ones, during the season.  With the load of classes, practices, games, and just being a college student the last thing a player needs is an NHL club whispering in their ear making all kinds of promises of what awaits them after the season.  And yes, I realize usually those discussions are made with the infamous “family advisor” but it’s still information being relayed to the player and potentially would be a huge distraction to his responsibilities on and off the ice.  I’m sure there are some players out there that are able to deflect that type of distraction but in my opinion Casey Wellman is the poster child for someone who could not juggle both his college and NHL goals when they were layed out in front of him.

After his spectacular start to the season it’s a good guess that the NHL teams came sniffing around at winter break and began the process of luring Wellman out of school.  And what happened?  His performance on the ice went into the toilet, as demonstrated by going scoreless in 12 of 13 games in January and February, and the team circled the bowl right along with Wellman’s game.  That’s not to say that this past season’s collapse is entirely on his shoulders, but his uninspired play was probably the most glaring during that time period.  And who got hurt the most from all this?  Not Wellman, he still got a 2 year $1.8M contract with the Wild.  Who got hurt the most was his teammates, who depended on Wellman, and gave their focus solely to the success of the UMass hockey program.  For a lot of those guys on the ice a potential NCAA tournament berth would’ve been the pinnacle of their hockey careers.  Not everyone is NHL bound.

Wellman’s competing interests aside, the problem ultimately rests with the college hockey’s relationship with the NHL.  While these two bodies should be working together to develop not only players to move into the professional ranks, but promote the sport of hockey in general.  Too often though they treat each other as adversaries, competing for players instead of nurturing them.  One would hope that the NHL would realize the foolishness of this and would begin to put restrictions in place in terms of communication and transactions.  Unfortunately I’ve never thought the NHL to be full of visionaries however, starting with the clown at the top.  Hopefully Paul Kelley and College Hockey Inc. will be able to bring some sense to the current setup.

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19 Comments

  1. Ron Paul

     /  July 2, 2010

    What nonsense. Casey Wellman didn’t hurt anyone, least of all his teammates who wouldn’t have had a lofty position from which to fall in the second half without him. People go to college to acquire skills with which to land good jobs. Some major in science and land good jobs in science, some major in athletics and land good jobs in athletics. Only the latter are subjected to undue scorn and jealousy.

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    • How do you explain his play in the second half of the season? And I willingly admit to jealousy of each and every UMass hockey player. Because I suck.

      And like I said I hate the environment that exists more than Wellman’s actions. Tough to get things done with people whispering in your ear.

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  2. justin

     /  July 2, 2010

    Well, then Casey Wellman got a D in his second semester of hockey. Besides, it’s a crappy analogy- Casey wasn’t studying for himself, there was a whole team working with him.

    If Casey was all about the NHL, he should have gone to the OHL. Forever grateful for Casey’s contributions to the UMass program, but it’s silly to suggest that there wasn’t a noticable drop off in performance over the course of the year.

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    • Ryan

       /  July 3, 2010

      He obviously wasn’t doing terrible in the classroom he made the all-academic team. That required a 3.0 both semesters he was enrolled, so he obviously did a decent job juggling the academic portion into his life.

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      • I didn’t suggest he was having problems in that area. I was just saying student athletes have a lot on their plates.

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  3. Greg

     /  July 2, 2010

    Oh no Mike Marcou at islandrs prospect camp here we go again

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    • George

       /  July 2, 2010

      Rocks good write up on Wellman. And although James Marcou didn’t go straight to the NHL, had he, I would expect a similar article. Equally uninspiring.

      I wouldn’t worry about Michael Marcou. He will be a 4 year player here. Despite his “goal scoring prowess” this past season, an average NCAA D man at best.

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      • Thanks George. I thought Marcou was slightly better, but still could’ve had a much better second half of the season. For him I don’t think it was out of lack of effort but more out of lack of execution.

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    • Greg,

      Great info. I’ve been trying to follow the prospect camp rosters, but missed Mikey at the Isle. I’m not too worried and think it might be a great opportunity for him.

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  4. Mel

     /  July 2, 2010

    Imagine if the NBA could do the same thing with college basketball players. The system as it exists right now between the NHL and college hockey is ridiculous and needs to change.

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  5. Kim

     /  July 3, 2010

    Hi guys
    Just a point of reference about the Casey Welman debacle. Cahoon himself cited on numerous occasions that the team flat out sucked, look thru the interviews he comments about the team going 0-for-February and the fact that only a handful of guys showed up to play on a night-to-night basis. If you want to bash Welman, by all means throw Martin Nolet right under the bus with him, that guy did nothing to add to the on ice team dynamic if anything for the second half of the season he acted as a cancer and destroyed it. How else do you explain the complete lack of play making and lack of performance by he and his line mates.

    It is Martin Nolets performance after returning from winter break that really made me consider allowing NHL representatives to talk with college players. I side with you in your discussion and rant about this. I went so far as to comment on this to a few of the other home game regulars that I sit with. It was obvious that there was some degree of disfunction when the team came back from winter break. You can not blame Toot for this, anyone who does is a complete TOOL. The players that have a lot of potential in the upcoming draft come back from break after having heard from families about NHL contacts and they play a different style of hockey which is all about No 1 and less about the fate of the team. Just look at the last 3 seasons and you’ll find evidence to back this up, they have not played different teams in the second half, all that has changed is the team dynamic-it’s just that obvious-sit in the stands for a game before/after break you’ll see it. At this point Toot should contact BU and/or UVM to see how they handle players in contact with NHL reps and take some advice – Good Luck to Welman(didn’t put up big numbers but he never lost the level of intensity he played with for the first half) Marcou(that kid played his heart out the last weeks down the stretch) Braun(this kid will be a success no mattter where he goes/what he does) not to mention Will Ortiz-give this kid the credit he deserves, by the way why is Toot not playing Shawn Saunders, especially when we saw our “star” players run the team right down the toilet- As for Nolet, sorry I was on of this kids biggest fans going into this season however I can’t like this kid a whole lot after his tasteless display after the first Maine game where he railed a kid and proceeded to point at the scoreboard at the end of the game-sportsmanship, no Martin I think not!

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    • Great comment Kim, thank you for contribution.

      Again, Wellman is not the end all be all for the suckage that was the second half of the season. And I agree with you that the blame can be shared by a number of players. Nolet definitely deserves to be questioned in that he didn’t really develop into the mature, senior defenseman that was hoped for. Marcou played great, but could not overcome that midseason funk that affected all players, no matter his extraordinary talent. I do have to say that I love your mention of Shawn Saunders because I’ve loved his effort and speed since he was a freshman and have always called for more playing time for him.

      I’m not sure if seeing how BU/UVM or other teams handle NHL contacts would help. Flat out those teams have enough depth to handle kids leaving after a year or so, sadly enough. Though it’ll be interesting to see how someone like David Warsofsky can deal with suddenly being under a microscope since he’s suddenly Bruins property. I really think individual players can handle that type of attention differently. Wellman seemed to have problems with it, Marcou less so, and guys like Pöck and Quick even less so. To my main point it would help if the NHL kept their hands to themselves until it was necessary.

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      • Anonymous

         /  July 6, 2010

        I think what Kim and others may be forgetting about Wellman was the well chronicled “Toot Rant”. Wellman and a few others were involved in an incident with police late at night during the mid season funk. Not acceptable – I believe Toot’s words at the time were not as kind. Disagree with both of you on Saunders. Great speed but hands of stone and no vision. Hopefully this is something he will work on this off season.

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  6. anonoymous

     /  July 6, 2010

    when is the season preview coming, prospective lineups?

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    • Probably sometime this week. I was thinking about writing it up today, but ended up searching around for recruiting news instead.

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  7. Scott Mc

     /  July 22, 2010

    Having played in the middle 70’s for Jack and presently working in the Twin Cities I almost fell off my bar stool when I heard that Wellman was playing for the Wild….a good college hockey player he is….certainly not anywhere near ready for the show. I was embarrased to watch him play, yes the NHL needs to stay away until these kids are ready and whoever advised Mr Wellman needs to go back for remedial training……

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    • Thanks for the insight Scott. Always glad to have former players following UMass hockey and the blog.

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      • Scott Mc

         /  July 25, 2010

        Thanks for the welcome…one other comment, as to the jump to the show for Mr. Marcou…one only only has to look at the progress of Nathan Gerbe, he, an extraordinary talent for a small
        man is still stuck in the AHL.The show is a big man’s game and I wish Mr Marcou well, he certainly has his work cut out for him….

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        • I thought the size thing would keep him at UMass all four years as well. He’ll have quite a challenge ahead of him.

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