Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Just Say No to the OHL

I don't get riled up all that often, but I saw something on Twitter tonight that needs to be stopped if there's even one hint of truth to it (and you know I'm serious since I'm more than willing to deploy single-sentence paragraphs and single word sentences in this post!):

According to a tweet by Brent Lale, a reporter for CTV in London, Ontario, the NHL has approved a request by the CHL to play an outdoor double-header at Michigan Stadium as part of the Winter Classic festivities. London vs. Saginaw and Windsor vs. Plymouth are the rumored teams. Sportsnet would be televising it.

This needs to be stopped immediately.

The OHL is a competing product. They steal our recruits. They play dirty and continue to recruit players after they've signed with colleges. They steal players during the season when it's too late for the NCAA team to replace them. They do everything they can to convince prospects that the CHL is a superior path to the NHL. Michigan should not be allowing them to use our beautiful stadium to showcase their product. 

Trevor Lewis. Jared Knight. AJ Jenks. Jack Campbell. John Gibson. Robbie Czarnik. Lucas Lessio. Tyler Swystun. Danny Richmond. Jason Bailey. All players that have committed to Michigan, signed with Michigan, or played for Michigan, before being poached by teams in the CHL in the not-so-distant past. If you want to go back further, do Mike Comrie and Mike Van Ryn ring a bell? I'm sure there are more.

To this point, I've only talked about kids affiliated with Michigan. Need more evidence? A couple of the rumored teams played roles in the mass exodus of NCAA-bound players to the OHL this summer. Plymouth signed JT Miller, a North Dakota recruit. Saginaw signed Jamie Oleksiak, a defenseman who would have been entering his sophomore year with Northeastern. Additionally, Gibson bailed from Michigan after signing a Letter of Intent. Reid Boucher, a Michigan State recruit, signed with Sarnia. Connor Murphy passed up Miami to sign with Sarnia as well. And that was all in about a week's span. Not to mention BU and BC lost a trio of much younger recruits as well.

Michigan wouldn't let Michigan State and Ohio State play an outdoor game in Michigan Stadium, and rightfully so. They're competitors. Why would you give them an opportunity for the positive publicity that an outdoor game at Michigan Stadium in conjunction with the NHL's Winter Classic would provide? You wouldn't. It would be stupid. Don't do anything to help your rivals, especially if they'd never return the favor.

The same thing applies here. The OHL is not only not a friend to college hockey, they're an enemy. Truth be told, I'd be less offended if it was FYS and Ohio State playing in our stadium than I am about the prospect about OHL teams playing there. There's no way in hell they'd extend the same invitation to a collegiate team if the situation was reversed, unless they thought there was some way that they could steal a player or two while the team was in Canada.

The NCAA, and specifically Michigan, should do NOTHING to accommodate them in any way, shape or form. If the OHL wants an outdoor game, they can host one in Canada or have it at Comerica with the rest of the ancillary events.

There have been some people that think having pro hockey in Michigan Stadium taints the Big House in some way. I don't feel the same way about the NHL, but I certainly do feel that way about the O. They don't belong anywhere near Michigan Stadium. Not as long as the playing field is so unequal with regard to poaching players. The thought of having an OHL game (or two) at the Big House is souring me on the whole thought of the Winter Classic there, and that's too bad since I'm probably one of the people who was most excited about it initially.

And the teams they're throwing around? Windsor STOLE OUR MOTHER FREAKING GOALIE (thank God for Shawn Hunwick) and they have the rights to Evan Allen and Phil Di Giuseppe. Plymouth took Robbie Czarnik mid-season, signed AJ Jenks away, and don't think for a second they didn't immediately call Jon Merrill when his suspension was announced. London signed *anny Richmon* away, landed Michigan-commit Jared Knight and convinced Max Domi to not go the college route (the latter isn't that big of a deal, but I figured I'd mention it since he was a pretty high-profile recruit). They've been one of the most troublesome OHL teams from an NCAA perspective over the years. Saginaw just acquired the rights to Boo Nieves and they have the rights to JT Compher.

None of this even includes future players that are deciding between the NCAA (specifically Michigan) and the OHL. Michigan is constantly in a battle with this league for recruits and they're constantly fighting a (one-sided) battle to keep the recruits that have already signed (or the players that are already on the friggin team). It would be the ultimate kick in the face to see Phil Di Giuseppe and Evan Allen playing at Michigan Stadium for the Windsor Spitfires next year.

This. Cannot. Happen.

I seriously urge everyone to email or tweet at Dave Brandon and make your feelings known. I'd hope that Red has as well. Based on the initial reaction from people on Twitter, I know I'm not alone in feeling this way. Maybe it's too late, or maybe it's no longer in his control. Maybe it's just a silly internet rumor that I'm freaking out about for nothing. But just on the off-chance this happens--or could happen--I don't want to sit quietly.

The OHL has no business playing a game at Michigan Stadium. They're a competitor--and not one that competes in good faith. They're not our friend. If Windsor could find a way to steal Di Giuseppe away, they'd do it in a heartbeat. We should not be helping them to market their product. The answer shouldn't be "Yes" if they ask to use the ice at Michigan Stadium. It actually shouldn't even be "No". It should be something more along the lines of, "Hell no. Go **** yourselves." Slam phone down.

I'm 100% behind the AD making money. I have a very progressive view in this regard. I'm firmly of the belief that if you don't want advertising in Michigan Stadium but you want renovations to Michigan Stadium, Crisler, and Yost, and you want a basketball practice facility, lacrosse teams, etc. that the AD needs to have the ability to host events like the Winter Classic. You're going to get Arby's sponsoring The Big Chill. It's unreasonable to ask them to ignore all these potential sources of revenue. But this is the ultimate in selling out. You'd be letting a dirty competitor come into your house, use it to help market their product, indirectly (or directly) steal players away from you, and make it harder for your own team to compete. And for the minimal amount of revenue that a pair of OHL games would provide.

This. Absolutely. Cannot. Happen.

Edit: Some good news today, as Michigan's Dave Ablauf has called the rumors "not true" and an OHL source has confirmed to the Michigan Daily's Matt Slovin that a doubleheader is in the works, but suggested that Comerica Park is the most likely location, which is how it should be.

That said, Michigan initially denied the Winter Classic rumors when they first came out. It is certainly comforting to hear that one of the OHL teams involved is saying Comerica as well, though.


Adam said...

Great post!

Hopefully, the thing holding up finalizing the Winter Classic was DB making sure the OHL games are played at Comerica.

Maybe I'm giving DB too much credit.

Anonymous said...

The Lions played the Colts in the 60's or 70's in an exhibition game- August- packed house-90 degrees! It was awesome!

Anonymous said...

Would you like some cheese with that wine? It's not as if the O wants to play in an outdated arena like Yost. Collegiate sports make me laugh. Make big bucks on F-Ball players and give them nada in return.

Anonymous said...

What is USA hockey's stance on the matter?

Unknown said...

I don't here about such happening? Is it real?

hank hendricks