Saturday, July 12, 2008

Job Opening: New Favorite Recruit

Well yesterday was lame. My favorite recruit decided to change plans and head to Denver this Fall instead of waiting til 2009 to attend Wisconsin. Not to mention I want Brett Favre to return to the Packers, but that is a whole different story not related to Badger Hockey.

It appears that Patrick Wiercioch asked Wisconsin for a release from his verbal commitment, and was the initiator in contacting Denver and inquiring about a spot for this season. For now, I won't fault Coach Gwozdecky too much. He probably could have told Patrick he should honor his commitment, but than NCAA Hockey would have lost another top player to the CHL. Though I'm very disappointed Patrick decided to change plans, at least he will pursue an education and play NCAA Hockey.

Todd Milewski at TCT added his thoughts on the situation yesterday. I certainly can't blame a kid who in the second half of the USHL season (and playoffs) was probably the best Dman in the league. After vaulting up the NHL Draft board, he probably needed a higher level of play to compete at this season. Todd's piece reminded me that Patrick was a 2008 or 2009 recruit; I'm sure Patrick was hanging his hat on coming in this year. To be realistic, raise your hand if you thought McB and McD were both coming back this season. Not too many people out there I would guess, I didn't raise my hand. To further play devil's advocate, there is that remote chance (better chance of winning powerball) that McB, McD, Smith, Goloubef and Gardiner will all be back in 2009 (to defend UW's 7th National Title). Where would the open spot be then?

Still, Patrick knew that he "could" be 2009, and still made the commitment. If he wanted to play in 2008, he should have made that clear in January to Coach Eaves and staff. If they couldn't guarantee that, he should have chosen a different school out of the gate, and saved any hard feelings Badger fans might have. In the end, I know he is just a kid, I remember being 18 years old (only 10 yrs removed from that), and so I cut him some slack.

Its interesting what role the Ottawa Senators played in all of this. NHL teams have a long arm in influencing their draft picks, which is only fair since their rights are their property. They probably wanted Patrick at a higher level this year, so they can get him in the pros sooner. After all when you have arguably the worst minor league system in the NHL, you need to try to correct that. There is more to this story and hopefully we'll find out more in the coming days.

The Badgers really aren't any worse off than they were thursday before all this happened. Sure Patrick is a blue chip recruit, but its not like we don't have other guys waiting in the wings as well. If three underclassmen leave after the season, perhaps Chase Drake (along w/ Schultz and Pryor) gets to start his UW career earlier than expected, or perhaps the Badgers land someone else who makes leaps and bounds in his development. I know Dplaya at HIW is very high on Ross Henry of the Lincoln Stars of the USHL. He is a defensive defensemen who flys under the radar from everything I read.

Its the dangers of over recruiting, which until now, has not reared its ugly head. The coaching staff knows that there are no Dmen graduating this season, yet we still had 3 recruits lined up. While its possible (probable more likely) we lose some underclassmen, its not set in stone either.

I followed Patrick pretty devoutly the past 6 months, and its a tough pill to take. I wish Patrick well in the future, except when he plays Wisconsin. Other Badgers fans might disdain him, but I find it hard to. I will cheer loudly though when Ratty Johnson tells Wiercioch that he owns him, which will happen, and Ratty will own Patrick Wiercioch in their WCHA matchups.

So I guess I'm looking for a new favorite recruit, luckily I have a ton of options.