EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State sophomore defenseman A.J. Thelen has been dismissed from the hockey team by coach Rick Comley. According to the shcool, Thelen’s scholarship will still be honored as long as he remains in school and is academically eligible.
“A.J. did not meet the expectations for a student-athlete in the ice hockey program at MSU,” said Comley. “It was in the program’s best interest to dismiss him from the team immediately. Despite parting at this time, I certainly wish A.J. well in his hockey career.”
The move was unusual in its timing, coming just before the start of the CCHA tournament. It’s also unusual because Thelen is a former first-round pick by his hometown Minnesota Wild in the NHL Draft, and was winner of the CCHA’s Best Offensive Defenseman Award last season as a freshman. He was also a member of the 2004 All-USCHO Rookie Team.
Sunday night, Thelen told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, “I feel the coach has double standards for certain players. I definitely was confident in my schooling and academics was not a problem. I’ve been eligible all season and would have been next season. He’s set in his ways. I tried to work with him and he tried to work with me and it didn’t work out.”
Thelen was considered to be having a disappointing sophomore season, and there were whispers of his unhappiness in the program. He contemplated turning pro last summer, but ultimately returned to school.
Comley called out Thelen before the season started, saying he was out of shape and didn’t have his head in it.
Thelen appeared in 33 games this season, posting 11 assists and no goals. In 74 career games, he totaled 11 goals and 29 assists for 40 points and 98 penalty minutes.