Making a mountain out of a Cahill

Players of the Week

Player of the Week: Kyle Bodie, Union

Six-foot Manitoban sophomore Bodie scored a goal and added an assist against St. Lawrence on Friday, then added the game-winner and an insurance tally in the rout of Clarkson on Saturday. Plus-5 on the weekend, Bodie doubled his point production on the season in extending Union’s unbeaten record at Messa Rink.

Honorable mention: Danny Biega, Harvard (2-2-4, +3 vs. Brown, Yale); Michael Biega, Harvard (3-1-4, +1, hat trick vs. Brown, Yale)

Rookie of the Week: Greg Carey, St. Lawrence

Super-rookie Carey scored the Saints’ lone goal Friday at Union, then tagged on two more and an assist against RPI the following night. The team’s leading scorer was also +1 for the weekend, and increased his season sum to 12 goals and six assists in 19 games.

Honorable mention: Andrew Calof, Princeton (1-2-3 vs. Cornell, Colgate); Mat Bodie, Union (1-2-3 vs. Clarkson, +4)

Goalie of the Week: Ryan Rondeau, Yale

I’ll say it again: Rondeau is making Yale’s goaltending concerns look pretty tiny right now. The No. 1 team’s No. 1 goalie stopped 61 of 64 shots on the weekend in Rondeau’s tightest games of the year so far. Now 13-0-0 and the nation’s only perfect ‘keeper (among qualified candidates, of course), the senior holds the country’s second-best goals-against average (1.74, trailing only Princeton’s Sean Bonar with 1.28) and the fourth-best save percentage (.936).

Honorable mention: James Mello, Dartmouth (67 saves, 71 shots vs. Yale, Brown); Marco DeFilippo, Brown (64 saves, 70 shots at Harvard, Dartmouth); Bryan Bessette, Colgate (29 saves, 31 shots at Quinnipiac); Eric Hartzell, Quinnipiac (48 saves, 52 shots vs. Colgate, Cornell); Mike Garman, Cornell (39 saves, 40 shots at Princeton); Andy Iles, Cornell (32 saves, 34 shots at Quinnipiac)

Much ado about nothing?

As some of the more message-board and Twitter-savvy (hint hint) fans already know, writer Julie Robenhymer wrote a pair of articles calling into question the eligibility of Yale senior forward Chris Cahill.

To whit, Robenhymer asserts that while studying in France last year (taking leave of Yale for academic reasons), Cahill played in a junior-level hockey league with and against professional players – a breach of NCAA eligibility, for which Colgate’s own Jack McNamara had to sit 10 games in the fall before reclaiming his eligibility.

Anonymous letters showed up on the doorsteps of each of the league’s 11 other head coaches urging investigation and action (confirmed by other sources, for the record), and the obfuscous pressure increased to the point that the league may have even asked Yale to sit Cahill for last Friday’s game at Dartmouth. Robenhymer goes on to question why Cahill was allowed to play at all this season, and wondered exactly how much effort Yale put into verifying his NCAA status.

But before Bulldog bashers get themselves all worked up, I would beseech you to remember the mantra of every math and science teacher who’s ever lived: Show your work.

Ms. Robenhymer, it seems, did not.

In her first article, her biggest mis-step (at least in my eyes) appeared to be that she made no mention of ever trying to contact Yale, the Ivy League, ECAC Hockey or the NCAA. It seems clear to me that she had someone in the shadows tugging at her ear and prodding her pen… who told her about those letters, after all? She ultimately talked to multiple compliance directors, to her credit, and called Yale and ECAC Hockey… but not until Monday.

The other mistake wasn’t immediately obvious, but really strikes at the heart of the issue: to the best of my understanding, Cahill played hockey in France, but neither he – nor any of his teammates or opponents – were paid. It seems that Cahill’s league was akin to a university club league: some amenities may have been taken care of by the team, but there was no stipend or paycheck. (I’m unclear, however, on whether the league actually is the counterpart to our ACHA, for example.) The league is funded by the government, and what I have come to believe is that not only are players not paid as a matter of convention, but it would be illegal.

Furthermore, the level of play in the French league is pedestrian at best. As one associate put it, who goes to France to play hockey? It’s not the kind of league that D-I athletes would seek for improvement, and it’s not competitive enough to warrant professional contracts even if they were permitted.

The long and short of it is that Ms. Robenhymer seems to have done an awful lot of insinuation based on an unfounded premise. In an email response to a preliminary query, she had this to say:

Yale has always maintained that Chris is eligible, and whether he is or isn’t eligible is not my call to make. The facts are that he played 18 games last year for a league that compensates it’s [sic] players and an anonymous letter was sent to the ECAC coaches and ADs urging them to investigate his eligibility and all of that has been confirmed.

In response to all the noise, Yale issued a brief release Monday evening:

Yale University Athletics Director Tom Beckett confirms that every standard pertaining to the collegiate eligibility of Chris Cahill has been met to the satisfaction of the Yale and Ivy League compliance staffs. Chris Cahill remains eligible to compete in all Yale hockey games.

So really, we can draw from two possible conclusions: Either Ms. Robenhymer listened a little too gullibly to a little bird with ulterior motives, or Yale Hockey and its athletic department at large are among the most lazy, deceitful, callous and manipulative organizations in the NCAA (and we’re including SEC schools here, too).

Neither is beyond the realm of possibility… but I have a pretty strong inclination to believe one over the other, and that’s all I can say about that.

My Top 20

Very little change in the top half; most notably, Clarkson and Princeton drop out in favor of Ferris State and Western Michigan after split weekends. Tough call – it really was, especially since Clarkson lost to solidly-ranked Union – but the records demanded a re-evaluation.

1. Yale
2. North Dakota
3. Boston College
4. Minnesota-Duluth
5. New Hampshire
6. Nebraska-Omaha
7. Denver
8. Union
9. Notre Dame
10. Wisconsin
11. Miami
12. Merrimack
13. Michigan
14. Colorado College
15. Rensselaer
16. Maine
17. Alaska
18. Boston University
19. Western Michigan
20. Ferris State