Monday, November 23, 2009

The Hits Keep Coming

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? 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.


Geoff Chiles said...


Tom said...

Well, obviously this sucks a lot. I wish Campbell would have had his change of heart when Michigan still had a reasonable chance to replace him. Hopefully top goalies in the 2011 class reconsider, this seems to be a pretty good opportunity for somebody, all of a sudden.

As much as I hate to say it, I think this is the correct decision for Campbell's career. I haven't taken the time to do the research, but anecdotally at least, the CHL appears to be a much better route for blue-chip goalies than the NCAA. Compare the career arcs of guys like Steve Mason, Cam Ward and Carey Price to Ryan Miller, Marty Turco and Jimmy Howard. It seems to me that NCAA goalies need significantly more minor league work when they come out. Standard caveats about sample size apply, but it seems like playing a full four years in college sets a goalie back 4 or 5 years against a CHL contemporary.

Windsor Spitfire Fan said...

Recruits are leaving for the Spitfires for lots of reasons. The OHL is the best developmental league in the world for NHL players. It offers a heavier schedule, and since import players came to the league the quality of play is outstanding. The Spitfires have a brand new 6500 seat arena, they are defending memorial cup champions well on their way to a 2nd title, and they have had a large portion of their team get drafted into the NHL already. They have top of the line training facilities, they play an NHL style game, and they are nicely positioned on the USA/Canada border making it attractive to Americans who live near by and want to stay close to home. Sorry to rip out your heart by stealing your golden boy, but we do need a goalie and I think Jack Campbell will do nicely.

Anonymous said...

Do any of you remember a fantastic goalie named Josh Unice? Personally, I feel that Unice was a better all around goal tender. He left a scholarship at BGSU to go to the OHL. I just read recently that he cleared waivers. He is now 21 or close to it - where did the OHL get him? Goalies are in a different category than a forward or defenseman. They normally need more time before making that jump to the NHL. I think his agent is feeding him a load of crap and it went to his head a long time ago!

Anonymous said...

Josh Unice was drafted in the 3rd round...Jack Campbell is looking to be the first goalie taken in the top ten since Carey Price. A little different situation.

Windsor Spitfire Fan said...

If you think Unice was a better goalie than Campbell you're not a very good judge of talent. If Unice had gone to college you'd be talking about a crappy 21 year old goalie playing for Bowling Green instead of a crappy OHL player.

In the OHL Campbell will be able to play upwards of 60 games a season against the top prospects in the world. I'm sure thats a better environment to become an NHL hockey player than some crappy college program. Full of scrubs and leftovers.

Instead of whining about the OHL poaching all the American talent you guys should fix the stupid NCAA rules that disqualify CHL players from going to college. Until that happens, the exodus will continue because its pretty obvious that more and more young american players are chosing the junior route to develop for the NHL. New OHL rules for education packages are just making it impossible for you to compete.

Anonymous said...

Western College Hockey blog has a list of all your first round NHL draft pick goalies who decided to go to major junior and fast track to the pros.

Out of 16 drafted in the first round over the past decade, only Price, Fleury, and Ward have become good. The rest... meh.

Major juniors produces a lot of great talent, I won't deny that, but their track record of developing first round goaltenders probably isn't any better than anywhere else.

Tom said...

Thanks for the link, it makes some interesting points. I agree that Campbell being in the NHL at 18 or 19 is probably unrealistic, and I didn't realize that he had said anything to that effect.

Looking at only first round goalies seems arbitrary. What I'd really like to see (and if I have time this weekend, maybe I'll try to compile) is the percentage of goalies that made it into the NHL, sorted by round taken, for both the NCAA and CHL. Of the goalies that made it, then I would look at average age at first significant NHL action. It may well be that there aren't enough data points to make such a study meaningful.

Still, let's not lose sight of the bigger issue here: it's been a really crappy fall for Michigan athletics.

Anonymous said...

Dear Windsor Spitfire Fan,

Fuck you. You have been entirely rational in this comment section, but seriously, go fuck yourself.

streaker said...

Rational up until the point where he rubs his arrogant ass into the noses of NCAA D1 hockey and our fans.

The comments regarding the talent in D1 hockey is unwarranted, otherwise he makes perfectly good sense. And if we could do anything about stupid NCAA rules (that's an oxymoron BTW) we would. He makes a great point though, in that the CHL now combines the opportunity for an education with the premier chance at playing against the world's best. It's the one trump card Berenson always held up.

And if Campbell makes an NHL roster when he is 19, and cashes in, good for him, maybe. Or he could be riding a bus in the AHL, too and not have that college education. His choice, but you are only 19-22 once in your life.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Windsor Spitfires Fan, go away. And fuck you. We're mourning here.

J said...

re: Z's departure

Rumor is Summers moves back to F (again). Where does he fit in?

I see: Summers-Caporusso-Treais, and Wohlberg going back to the 3rd line w/ Lebler & Winnett. Pateryn obviously comes off the scratch list then.

Anonymous said...

Or Moffie or Vaughn. Take your pick, but the depth sucks right now. Nice class move, Czarnik, I hope you find your tinsel.

Windsor Spitfire Fan said...

What does Michigan's 2011 recruiting class look like? By then Windsor will probably need some more players because most of the current ones will be in the NHL. Anybody good committed yet that Windsor can sign away from you? Now that Campbell is gone I can't see Michigan being a very attractive option to anybody, especially with their play so far this year.

Yes, I am an asshole but I know my hockey. I don't think Jack's statement about being in the NHL in 1 or 2 years means much. Its just a way of saying the CHL gives him a faster route to the NHL. It gives the team drafting him some flexibility on how to develop him, instead of just relying on Michigan's glorified gym teacher to develop him.

Anonymous said...

No, it just means that the kid got talked into this path by scouts/Windsor because he has an ego the size of a truck and money talks.

You are right about one of the two things you said about yourself, at least.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Spits, you sure are an asshole. "Knowing hockey" isn't an excuse - we all know our hockey.

Anonymous said...

Where I come from, when you make a commitment to someone, whether written or verbal, you make a firm commitment. It is sad that Campbell's agent and parents have allowed this to happen. The only thing we leave this earth with is our "good" name...or not I guess!

Geoff Chiles said...

"Glorified gym teacher"?

"Crappy program"?

What has Michigan ever done to you?

What we have done is win games, league titles, and National Championships--oh, and Red has also developed top NHL talent time and time again.

In concert with everyone else: fuck you.

Quirico J. said...

Agreed, Spits Fan lick a dick. Red Berenson is a legend regardless of where your fan loyalties lie.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he was talking about the program's "volunteer" goalie coach... Blackburn last I checked.
Maybe... but he can't be talking about a HOF Cup winning NHLer and 2 time NC winner can he?

Windsor Spitfire Fan said...

It's all about development. 18 and 19 year old players who come out of the CHL are better prepared for the NHL than 18 and 19 year old college players. I'm sure there's a nerd around here who can verify that statistical certainty. So the bottom line is, for a player of that age junior hockey is the better choice if the only focus is playing in the NHL.

Now you can cry or whine about the whole commitment thing, but there's no way you can hold a grudge against a player doing what is best for him and changing his mind. Many of these commitments are made when the players are just young kids with no concept of what their lives will be like several years into the future. Its silly to expect a child to make a life altering decision at that age and stick to it no matter what. Looks like I'm not the only asshole here.

Anonymous said...

Windsor Spitfire Fan -I am disappointed about the departure - and I agree the commitments are made when the players are too young, - ad for the record you are not the only asshole - Jack Campbell is an asshole for making his plans known AFTER signing day. Period. Kid or not. His advisor and his parents could have insisted it be done earlier - they are in fact adults.

Anonymous said...

Windsor, here are some stats calculated by the guy at WCH, enjoy:

Packer487 said...

I know we're all frustrated, but at least keep it semi-clean guys.

Windsor, that's an awful lot of bravado from someone whose team has produced something like seven relevant NHL players in the last 3 1/2 decades, and no decent goalies (OH JAMIE STORR!!!): Jason Spezza, Adam Graves, Ed Jovanovski, Tim Kerr, Cory Stillman, Todd Gill, Craig Muni

Seriously, look at this list. Not impressed.

I'm gone til Sunday morning with no internet. Be good everyone. And Go Blue!

Anonymous said...

Jack Campbell can have fun seeing 40 shots a game next year when they lose ALL of their scoring and i mean ALL of their scoring. Hall, Nemisz, Henrique, McDermid, Timmins, as well as possibly Ryan and Panik since they werent drafted from the O, GONE! they lose stay at home defenseman harry young and probably fowler too. ellis will be back but hes a forward dressed as a d man and lose another d man due to the overage situation. they think they will get stephen johns but there is no chance jeff jackson will lose another defenseman to windsor two years in a row plus he has a number of friends from pittsburgh at notre dame. But this could very well backfire on Jack Campbell. I hope the kid realizes how hard it is to actually make it to the NHL, he should just ask Timmy Thomas or more recently Al Montoya or Jonathan Bernier.

Anonymous said...

Campbell's decision was the wisest choice for his professional goal. Splitting time with Hogan next year would be tough. We wish Jack Campbell the very best in the OHL. He is a class act, on AND off the ice.

J said...

Do they give glorified gym coaches the Jack Adams Trophy?

Spitfan, I agree with a lot of what you're saying, but the jabs at anything college is immature.

Anonymous said...

Interested to see what Spits has to say about Michigan alums vs. Spits alums. Because Michigan wins hands down.

Windsor Spitfire Fan said...

If we are talking about all-time player development obviously Michigan has the edge at this point historically speaking. However we are not talking about the past, we are talking about the present and the future. Sorry, but with the current Spitfires organization Windsor has the advantage on Michigan for player development. The current owners purchased the team only a few years ago and in that time they had new facilities built, top talent brought in and a memorial cup added to the trophy case. Just look at the NHL prospects who they have developed in that short time compared to what Michigan has developed in the last 3 years. Face it, college hockey is an old and broken horse waiting for the glue factory. Michigan's current performance is a pretty good indicator of that. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Yeah? well let's see what the hiring of Mr. Kelly will do to change that:

Josh said...

you are canadian...that nullifies your argument right there windsor spitfirefan

Anonymous said...

In regards to Michigan Alums and Windsor Alums. Wouldn't it be wise to compare Michigan the past 3 years to Windsor Alums the past 3 years since Rychel and Boughner have taken over ownership of that franchise? Since they have taken over.

1st round picks
Josh Bailey-playing for Isles
Ryan Ellis-signed deal with Preds
Greg Nemisz-signed deal with Flames

2nd round pick
Jesse Blacker-traded

3rd round pick
Adam Henrique-signed deal with Devs

5th round pick
Loktionov-signed with Kings, made NHL debut

Current players drafted on team
Mitchell Leafs
Timmins Panthers
Young Devils
Ryan Leafs
Wellwood Flyers
Panik Lightning
Cundari not drafted but signed deal with Blues

Players that will be drafted that are playing for the Spits or will be.


All this has just been done in 3 years. Michigan very good hockey school but right now Windsor is a hockey breeding ground for players. Talk to me in a few more years when a lot of those guys are in the show. Windsor would run a train on any NCAA hockey team.

Anonymous said...

Windsor is not the end all for hockey talent. London could have claimed the same superiority two seasons ago, and now look at them. It's easy to say that the OHL could truck the NCAA teams... probably true, considering their only mission is to get guys to the next level, unlike the NCAA's mission.

Anonymous said...

You're right. The NCAA's mission is to make lots of money off of student athletes behind the false facade of giving them a quality education. Admit it.

Anonymous said...

I am both a Windsor and UofM fan. I was excited at the idea of having Jack Campbell in net for the Wolverines, but it is easy to see why he chose the OHL route.

Us Wolverine fans are going to take another hit pretty soon, as Lucas Lessio is heading to the under-17s tournament, and just might make the decision to come over to the "show" (aka the OHL). Oshawa now holds his rights, and the idea of playing with Boone Jenner for a few years will probably sounds like a good idea. Just speculation and rumours, but dont be overly surprised when it happens.