Minnesota’s O’Brien Departs For WHL

Golden Gopher forward/defenseman Jim O’Brien has decided to forgo his final three years of college hockey eligibility and has left the University of Minnesota men’s hockey team to play for Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League.

“I think Jim and his family have made a decision that they believe is in his best interests,” Minnesota coach Don Lucia said. “Although I am disappointed by the decision and the timing, Jim’s departure opens the door for another player to get more ice time and advance in his development as a hockey player. I’m looking forward to the 2007-08 season and defending the MacNaughton Cup and Broadmoor Trophy.”

A 6-0, 190-pound freshman forward in 2006-07, O’Brien had seven goals and eight assists in 43 games last season. The 29th overall draft pick by the Ottawa Senators in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, O’Brien was slated to play as a defenseman for Minnesota in 2007-08.