As if a 5-7-0 start to the season wasn't bad enough.
It was announced today that sophomore forward Robbie Czarnik has left the team to join the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL. Additionally, uber-recruit Jack Campbell was not among the future Wolverines who signed a letter of intent and is likely to join the Windsor Spitfires instead.
Reaction? Don't worry. I'm not gonna do what you all think I'm going to do, which is, you know, flip out!
I'm really bummed about Campbell, mainly because I wanted to get to regularly watch him play--even if only for a year--and be able to claim him as an ex-Wolverine when he goes on to the NHL.
It kind of surprises me, but it surprises me that it didn't happen sooner. It was clear that Campbell wasn't going to be a four-year player, and him leaving after one year wouldn't have shocked me a bit. With a 2-year starting goalie returning for his senior season, six months ago this wasn't all that attractive of a situation for a potential one-and-done player. But through 12 games, it was looking like Hogan was ripe to be Billy Sauered his senior year and that Campbell could have seen a good 30 games between the pipes next season.
I don't know what it's like to be a blue-chippah, but I'd love to know all the stuff that goes into these decisions. As recently as October we heard that Michigan was the place. Not going to the OHL, no sir. I'd really love to be a fly on the wall and know what changed. The OHL didn't change. Michigan didn't change, beyond stumbling out of the gate. I'd be really curious to know why all of a sudden Windsor became the best option.
I'm disappointed, but it would be horribly hypocritical of me to rip the kid when I've defended Brett Favre to the death over his right to have a change of heart. (Not to mention he didn't sign anything.) It doesn't screw us all that badly for the 2010 season. We'll still have Hogan for his senior year. Though I'm not exactly high on Hogan at the moment, he's still a pretty good goalie. I don't know what the goalie class for 2011 is like, and how many of them have already been snapped up. I know both goalies for the U-17s have committed elsewhere.
In terms of a stomach-punch it's up there, because this is a recruit that I've been looking forward to watching for a long time. But it's not like we're left without a goalie for next season and it's not like this happened during the summer. There may even still be time to find someone for next year. Just looking through the USHL rosters, the CSS's #4 USHL goalie is still available. And the guy with some of the best numbers in the league (11-2-0, 1.92, .930) hasn't committed either. I've never seen either of them. Don't know if they're any good--or looking to go the college route--but there may be guys out there.
I wish Campbell well, and still hope he shows the world how it's done in the international tournaments this year. But he doesn't get to be JMFC anymore. I officially un-dub thee.
As for Czarnik, I'm less understanding. I realize I just said I understand when people have a change of heart. But you're in the middle of a season. You've made a commitment to the school and to your teammates, and you're going to bail after 12 games? If you were that unhappy last season, the time to make this decision is during the summer. Not when it leaves a gaping hole in the current lineup.
To some degree, it's hard to fault the kid if he feels like it's the best thing for his career, but the timing is absolutely abysmal. Plymouth acquired his rights today, the same day he announced he was leaving school, so you have to believe he made it known he would report if they got him. You're telling me that's not something that could have been done a lot sooner? Like...in the offseason? I can appreciate not wanting to be somewhere that you're not happy, but he knew he wasn't happy last year according to the report. If you come back to campus, suck it up and stick it out for the season.
Impact: According to the article in the Daily, this might mean that (once again) the Chris Summers to forward experiment has a chance of happening. Some were already calling for it in an attempt to revitalize the stagnant offense. Now we might not have a choice. The downside is moving Summers doesn't help the defense, which hasn't exactly been the strong point that everyone expected it to be. Then again, team defense doesn't just mean the rear-guards, and it's not like Summers can't back-check. Dammit. It's a crappy situation to be in.
Czarnik ends his Michigan career with 8-14--22 in 51 games. Despite the low numbers and the fact that he underachieved in his brief career in the maize and blue, he's a loss. He had definitely improved from a season ago. His speed was always a factor, and he showed glimpses every now and then of being a star player at this level. It's not Kevin Porter that we're losing, but this still doesn't help the cause one little bit. Absolutely fantastic.
On the plus side, the Wolverines received letters of intent from Mac Bennett, Jacob Fallon, Kevin Clare, Jon Merrill, and Luke Moffatt. Czarnik leaving frees up another scholarship. Derek DeBlois should be able to come in next season if needed, and Lessio could always accelerate. (I still don't know how he plays two years at St. Mike's with the OHL salivating over him.)
And yes, I know I didn't mention the win over BGSU on Saturday. Didn't see it, didn't get to listen to it. It sounded like they played very well. I'm not getting excited about a split with Bowling Green. Win the Showcase, jail sex an equally struggling Minnesota team, and we'll talk. For me personally, this is the biggest "weekend" of the season. I despise the Gophers and I live in Madison. Beating the Gophers and Badgers makes my life a lot better.