Is it me or is the college hockey world being overcome by incident after incident that leaves the average fan shaking their head. After a season that’s had a rash of problems for players both on and off the ice, last week saw one of the top scoring players in the nation head to the NHL after some sort of off-ice incident followed by one of the longest brawls that college hockey has seen.
Things began on Thursday when it was announced that Denver’s top scorer, Brock Trotter, had signed an NHL contract with the Montreal Canadiens. Simple, though somewhat strange to happen mid-season, the signing followed Denver head coach George Gwozdecky benching Trotter for a two-game series a week earlier at Minnesota State.
Gwozdecky and Denver had no comment on Trotter being left out of the lineup and never made any official announcement of a suspension. That won’t be necessary now that Trotter has departed the program, but there certainly remains what seems like some unanswered questions.
While that drama spun off the ice, Canisius and RIT engaged in a donny-brook of fights on Saturday night that resulted in 239 penalties combined in the 4-1 RIT victory. Honestly, after watching this amateur video of the altercation, I’m surprised that there weren’t more penalties assessed. It will be interesting to see if the league imposes any additional suspension.
These are two in a long list of incidents both on and off the ice that have drawn attention this season. Boston College, Boston University, Maine, Vermont, Colorado College, North Dakota, New Hampshire and Michigan all have suspended or dismissed players for off-ice incidents. Out in the WCHA, North Dakota has twice been involved in brawls and head coach Dave Hakstol has has his share of problems, getting into a verbal tussle with Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves earlier in the season before recently being suspended for “flipping the bird” at an official during a series with Minnesota.
So the question at hand is what the heck if going on?
The answer may be difficult to find. In terms of off-ice issues, I personally believe that there have been problem similar to these occuring within teams for years. Before the era of real-time media, I think that most of these problems could be swept under the carpet.
As for the on-ice altercations, in essence everything that has happened is part of the game. There will be brawls at times. What will curb these incidents is how the league reacts. AHA commissioner Bob DeGregorio has the chance to send a message that behavior such as what was witnessed on Saturday night isn’t acceptable. There were some automatic suspensions associated with the penalties that were handed out, but there when you have players leaving the penalty box, goaltenders skating the length of the ice to start fights and players beating other players with helmets, supplemental discipline is certainly warranted.