When you think of Eric Lindros, the first thing that comes to mind is the 6’4″ winger dressed in the Flyers black and orange, dominating the play with his big frame. The former first overall pick in the 1991 NHL draft was actually selected by the Quebec Nordiques, having no intention in suiting up for them. He later confessed it was an issue about the owner and not the team. Redgardless, it’s a pretty bold statement for a 17 year old to make at a time when all of his childhood dreams were coming true.
As hard as it is to picture a young 17 year old telling a team who evidently wanted him, imagine kids as young as 15 years old doing it. No chance in hell, right? Wrong.
I remember the day of my OHL draft, I was sitting there with my fingers crossed just hoping I’d get picked. Maybe that’s part of the reason why I’ve never understood the whole refusal thing. I think it’s time for junior hockey to step up and instate some kind of consequence for the players that choose to do so.
As the rule stands, when a player does not report, they become what we call a “defected” player. Long story short, if the team trades the player before a certain deadline (mid-September), they receive a first round pick the following year one spot higher than where they took that player, on top of their first-round pick for that draft. In my opinion, the compensation here just doesn’t balance out.
Yes you can argue that the team usually flips that player for a boat load of draft picks, in this years case, Peterborough received nine draft picks from Windsor. Nine! On paper, that looks pretty good for Peterborough but for an organization that missed the playoffs in the 2017-2018 season and could always use an attendance boost, I’m sure an exciting top 6 forward would’ve been a lot more appealing to the Petes.
Now listen. I played junior hockey for 4 years, I’m fully aware that some teams have better rinks, bigger budgets, more fans, and other attractions a young hockey player may find appealing. But before the OHL draft even takes place, that should be the first “contract” a player signs.
This is officially the moment that you are stepping into a new hockey world. The one we knew growing up of double headers on a Saturday afternoon or mini-sticks in hotel hallways are over, it’s a business now. Coaches aren’t your
teammates’ dad anymore and being a team General Manager isn’t just volunteer work, so why is the OHL allowing kids to refuse to report when the only party that takes the quick hit from it is the team that drafted them.
This isn’t much of a rocket equation either;
Good players = Good teams = Wins = Fans
How can you expect a team to execute a rebuild or begin the process of one when players are refusing to report because they’d rather play somewhere with more fans or a nicer rink? I’m sure Connor McDavid could’ve easily refused to go to the last place Erie Otters at the time. Now they are a consistently good team with crazy fans and a reputation of advancing players to the pro ranks.
My first year in Sarnia saw us finish dead last in the entire CHL. A whopping 17-44-7 record saw players with up to a -45 plus/minus rating. Talk about winning the green jacket. The following year we drafted Jakob Chychrun, Jordan Kyrou and Pavel Zacha. Maybe this is why I’m all about not allowing to refuse, because I’ve witnessed first hand what impact players of that caliber can do for a team and a city.
Now in terms of a consequence, you obviously don’t want to jeopardize a kids future so there is a fine line that you don’t want to cross. The team losing out on a player should still be compensated, and then I would lean more towards that player only being allowed to play 34-44 games in his rookie season, of course with his new team. I think that forces a player to make a tough decision if it’s worth missing a third of his pivotal rookie season to play for the
organization of his choice or if it would look better to help turn a team around and have the opportunity to put up strong numbers by playing a full 68 game OHL season.
Ultimately there’s numerous ways you can go about this but I do think that this is an issue that needs to be addressed, for the better sake of the league. And hey, who says Peterborough doesn’t win a Memorial Cup with those 9 picks? Either way, I think it’s time that these 15-16 year
old’s show some pride and enjoy the journey that few get to experience.
Taylor Dupuis #29
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