Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Man, defecting isn't cool

The picture to the left is Decepticon Starscream of the popular 80s cartoon Transformers. In the show, Starscream unendingly worked to undermine the authority of Megatron the leader of the Decepticons. Unforunately for Starscream, for all his hard work, at the end of the day he was nothing more than a flunky who couldn’t back up his talk.

That is similar to the greasy haired blue liner pictured below named Patrick Wiercioch (or Patrick Who? for Ma60). Wiercioch once gave his word to Coach Mike Eaves and the Wisconsin Badgers Men’s Hockey team, but in the end he couldn’t back up his word and defected to Denver when a “better” opportunity (for the record there is no better opportunity than playing on the blue line at Wisconsin) opened up. To his credit, he does come through on the ice, and is one of the top freshman in the country. Patrick Wiercioch is a Defecticon, someone whose word means nothing and will jump on the earliest train out of town when it suits his needs.


Picture from nhl.com

The 2nd round pick of Ottawa, will he be skipping town again for the pro's, this time Denver's loss?

Below is a timeline of the events surrounding the Defecticon’s Denver defection.

Sept 7, 2007 – Wiercioch is interested in UW among other schools including Denver, Michigan, Michigan State and New Hampshire.

Jan 27, 2008 – Wiercioch verbally commits to Wisconsin for either 2008 OR 2009.

March 22, 2008 – I attend the Omaha Lancers @ Green Bay Gamblers and instantly become a huge Wiercioch fan.

May 10, 2008 – The Omaha Lancers hoist the Clark Cup as USHL Champs and Wiercioch plays a huge role from the blue line. He dominates on the ice in the 2nd half of the season after returning from a thumb injury.

June 2008 – David Carle, a 2008 Denver dman recruit, is diagnosed w/ a life threatening condition and is forced to quit hockey.

June 21, 2008 – Wiercioch is drafted in the 2nd round of the NHL, 42nd overall, by the Ottawa Senators. He had been ranked 77th among North American skaters in the final central scouting rankings.

July 10, 2008 – W/ an opening on the team due to David Carle’s condition, Wiercioch jumps town for Denver and instantly becomes the Defecticon. W/ his family advisor and the Ottawa Senators whispering in his ear, he decides he needs to play NCAA hockey this year. His contact w/ UW is minimal other that to say he is defecting. Apparently his word means nothing. Six months previous the Defecticon was ok w/ 2008 OR 2009, but that day he was not.

July 11, 2008 – I no longer have a favorite recruit.

October 2008 – The Defecticon suits up for Denver to start his NCAA career.

December 2008 – Attending Canada’s WJC camp, the Defecticon is cut while Wisconsin’s Cody “Gold Medal” Goloubef is the only NCAA player to make the team.

February 13, 2009 – The grease from the Defecticon’s hair starts a fire at the World Arena in Colorado Springs. One of CC’s non-NCAA Championship banners (which are abundant) is used to put out the fire.


At the end of the day, how big of a loss was Patrick Wiercioch for the Wisconsin Badgers? Based on his play during this season, and comments he has made in the past, it is possible he might skip town again this summer (this time DU’s loss) and head to Ottawa (or Binghampton) to start his professional career. At minimum, no way he’ll be back for his junior year. So had he come in next season w/ Justin Schultz, I’m willing to bet that he’d leave after one season.

From a different view, what if Wisconsin had had room to add him into the lineup this season. He would certainly have been a welcome addition, and now maybe I’m jaded in saying this, but I’d take the current core of top draft picks we already have. The Defecticon’s upside is his offense. We already have plenty of offense on the blue line. He’s pretty damn good for a freshman, but he’d be 2nd pairing at best on the PP behind All-American and Hobey Baker Candidate Jamie McBain and Brendan Smith (when healthy). McBain is the best PP QB in the country; Smith arguably has the best one timer in the country.

Better than McDonagh and Goloubef at EV? Maybe offensively, but McDonagh and Goloubef are both better defensive players. I’d take the slightly lesser offensive skills for the second pairing along w/ their enhanced defensive skills over the Defecticon, hands down.

How about Jake Gardiner? Jake has been the most pleasant blue line surprise on the team this season. I thought he’d be more like Smith as a frosh, instead of playing like Goloubef. Jake isn’t the talent the Defecticon is yet, but for a guy who two years ago was playing forward, his potential is sky is the limit.

Really Denver’s gain in the short term is Wisconsin’s gain in the long term. We didn’t have room for the Defecticon, he left and who verballed to take his place next season instead: John Ramage. The Badgers are in need of a top end stay at home defenseman and Ramage fills that role. I still haven’t heard a bad thing about him either.

Obviously the argument exists that the Defecticon did what was in his best interest to further his career. That is all well and good and once he leaves the WCHA, I wish him the best of luck (he isn’t a gopher afterall), but as a Badger fan there is no time for warm and happy feelings when someone turns their back on their verbal commitment and skips town for a rival. This weekend Denver comes to town, and this time the Defecticon will be leaving town again, this time w/ his tail between his legs following a Badgers sweep.