Umberger Will Not Return to OSU

Ohio State all-American forward R.J. Umberger will not return to the school for his senior season.

The one-time NHL First Round Draft choice spent the entire summer negotiating with the Vancouver Canucks, but still has not come to terms. In the mean time, classes have started at Ohio State and Umberger is not in them.

As of last week’s media day, Ohio State coach John Markell still didn’t know Umberger’s status, but he was pretty sure he was not returning to school. Markell was holding a spot for him, but Umberger has decided to stay in Vancouver and continue negotiating.

“What are his options?” Markell said last week. “To sit out? Be a free agent? Or come back and prove he really deserves the money.”

Umberger, the 2001 CCHA Rookie of the Year, was a Hobey Baker Award finalist this past season when he scored 26 goals and 53 points. In his career, he had 58 goals and 128 points, and was the Buckeyes’ top scorer in each of this three seasons.

“Obviously it is very disappointing,” Umberger told the Vancouver Sun about his not having signed yet. “I’m anxious to get my professional career started and to sit home is tough. I just have to make sure I’m in great shape when the time comes.”

Sophomore-to-be Ryan Kesler, a 2003 first-round pick of Vancouver, left Ohio State for the NHL earlier in the summer.

Ohio State would have had three NHL first-round picks as centers this season had those players returned. Senior Dave Steckel is the other.

Umberger was set to be the team’s captain this season. That spot has now been filled by junior JB Bittner.