One of the first things you learn in this business, and most of us learn it the hard way, is to thoroughly check out any rumor you hear, no matter how credible and reliable the source from which it originates.
That is particularly true when it comes to what’s known in the business as, “arena talk.” You see, there are gossips, and then there are hockey scouts. Nobody likes to spread and perpetuate juicy rumors like the men who identify hockey talent for a living.
To wit: I heard from a very well connected, reliable and long-time scout Wednesday night that three players would be defecting from the U.S. under-17 program to go to the OHL prior to its roster deadline, which was 6 p.m. Thursday.
The three players were highly regarded Beau Schmitz, who was supposedly joining the Plymouth Whalers, high-scoring center Jeremy Morin, who was going to the Kitchener Rangers, and defenseman Bjorn Krupp, who was poised to begin playing with the Belleville Bulls.
It was a rumor that was running rampant in arenas all over Ontario and on some message boards, as well.
In fact, the scout said Krupp, the son of former NHLer Uwe Krupp, was so upset about being benched for the final two games of the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge in London, that he bolted the program, was already in Belleville and would be playing for the Bulls by this weekend.
“I don’t know about that,” said one agent when asked if it were true. “I just saw him last night with his dad at the Michigan game.”
When the deadline passed Thursday night, all three players were still with the U.S. under-17 team and, it appears, none of them was ever really serious about going to the OHL this season.
Rangers coach-GM Peter DeBoer said he had heard the same rumors about Morin, but had heard absolutely nothing from the Morin camp that would lead him to believe the player was coming to Kitchener.
But he said he noticed rumors began to circulate after he was seen talking to Morin’s parents between periods during a game at the under-17 tournament. From that conversation, which DeBoer claims at no time did either side ever talk about the player going to Kitchener, people put two and two together and came up with five.
That’s not to say all three won’t be in the OHL next season. All of them have been drafted and the OHL teams are pushing hard to get them. Schmitz, who made a commitment to Ferris State University when he was 14, probably will never end up suiting up for the school.
There is also an interesting back story to Morin, who currently leads the U.S. under-17 team in scoring.
His father is Canadian and Morin is a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen. Since he hasn’t played for USA in any International Ice Hockey Federation tournaments, yet, he has also caught the attention of Hockey Canada, which would like to have him in its program.
All three players are eligible for the 2009 draft, which is shaping up to be a very good crop of young players. John Tavares leads the class, of course, and next is Victor Hedman, a defenseman who is playing a regular shift in the Swedish League for MoDo and played for Sweden’s team at the World Junior Championship. There are a number of other very good prospects in that draft, many of them coming from the WHL.
Now, you want to feel really old? The majority of players in that draft class were born in 1991 (Tavares is a late birthday and was born in 1990), the same year Eric Lindros was selected first overall by the Quebec Nordiques.
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