|According to some, if Guy Gadowsky found a way to win at Princeton, he can find a way to win at PSU.|
What are the implications of Penn State's NCAA sanctions on hockey recruiting? Really, at this point, it depends on who you ask. Let's take a quick spin around a representative set of opinions, starting on the pessimistic end of the spectrum.
(By the way, message board "experts" need not apply here. I actually did look at USCHO in an attempt to pull a reasonably intelligent opinion to share. No such luck.)
CBS Sports ran this piece on Monday, and while the subject was Patrick Chambers and Penn State basketball, the applicability of everything said to hockey should be pretty obvious. Both sports are in the same boat as not directly involved, but guilty by association. The writer talks about sitting next to PSU associate coach Eugene Burroughs at a showcase, seeing the logo on his shirt, and thinking "Sandusky, child rape, coverup." He concludes that if that was his first reaction, surely most potential recruits would see it the same way. The most compelling part of the article, though, was this opinion:
"It will affect [basketball] recruiting in the short-term," said Baylor coach Scott Drew, who already knows what Chambers soon will learn, that it's difficult to recruit to a ruined brand even if the damage done wasn't your fault. Drew, in 2003, took the challenge of rebuilding the Bears program rocked by a murder and coverup under former coach Dave Bliss.Possible Negative Impact, But Ultimately Okay
"The people who only know of Penn State what they're reading nationally probably aren't going to be interested in going to Penn State right now," Drew said. "So Penn State might have to rely more on prospects and families who know more about Penn State than what's in the news -- maybe people who had relatives or family members go there, or just people who have spent some time on the campus before all this -- because those people will probably be more inclined to see more than just this situation."
College Hockey News managing editor Adam Wodon called into The Pipeline Show Tuesday night to discuss The Scandal's impact on hockey (here's the show's archive page, with downloadable MP3s of each segment - segment one, before Wodon was on, is also worth a listen).
Between the three people involved in the conversation - co-hosts Dean Millard and Guy Flaming were the other two - the consensus seemed to be that recruiting may (or may not, there was some hedging) be hurt on some level in the short run, but in the long run, the program will come out fine. Wodon, at one point, said that "it may take them a little longer, perhaps, to become a power than they might have anticipated," which sort of captures both sides of the coin - power status is still on the table, but delayed. He followed it up with this gem:
"[Gadowsky] recruited to Princeton and they won the ECAC championship and made the NCAA tournament. If he can do that, I'm pretty sure he can still recruit to Penn State."Ouch, sorry Princeton.
|Freshman forward Jonathan Milley and Sheldon Keefe won big at Pembroke.|
A Speed Bump
On Wednesday, Pembroke Lumber Kings (CCHL) President/GM/Head Coach Sheldon Keefe tweeted this:
Guy Gadowsky, Matt Lindsay and the staff of Penn State's new D1 hockey program are the perfect people to help rebuild the pride at PSU.No, he wasn't directly talking about recruiting, but as a guy in charge of a Junior A team (not to mention his specific mention of ace recruiter Lindsay), what do you suppose his context is? Even if the comment wasn't a "recruiting" comment per se, recruiting, whether consciously or not, probably played a big part in developing that opinion. At minimum, it's nice to see some confidence from someone representing a group with a great amount of influence on the process.
Keefe and the Lumber Kings, by the way, were the 2011 RBC Cup winners as the Canadian Junior A national champions. Nittany Lions freshman Jonathan Milley scored both goals in the title game win over the Vernon Vipers.
I won't claim to be supremely plugged into the world of uncommitted players to the point where I can deliver any kind of large sample. But the father of one, Edina (MN) High School senior Anthony Walsh, told me recently that "the football mess leaves Anthony no less interested in PSU." I think that statement's important not just for the "no less interested" part, but for the "football" part as well. Clearly, some out there are able to see this as implicating something less than the entire university.
Here's a nice highlight reel of Walsh at his Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) tryout. For more, check out the YouTube channel of 55rudyrudy.
The article that ties everything together and inspired me to do something beyond just dumping this all in Three Stars is this USCHO piece, posted late Wednesday and quoting Guy Gadowsky extensively on the NCAA fallout. Here's his take:
“When [recruits] see how the student body and our athletics program is dealing with this going forward, I think it will mean even more to come here,” he said. “In a strange sense, it’s certainly not going to be immediate, but by the way Penn Staters deal with this, Penn State hockey will become even more attractive.”Good with me.
Just so I'm not seen as misrepresenting what he said, Gadowsky did also mention some level of concern from both players and parents, but that those issues are usually smoothed over with a campus visit or even a quick reassurance.
I think ultimately the final word, at least for now, is "we'll see." But it is encouraging that, even in close proximity to the worst of days, most still seem to believe in Penn State hockey's potential.