It was originally reported by student-journalist Matt Slovin on Michigan Daily.com: apparently the ninth overall pick in this year’s NHL draft has been offered $200,000 to scrap his commitment to the University of Michigan and play for the OHL team that has his rights, the Kitchener Rangers. His sources say Trouba’s now 50/50 on honoring his commitment, and giving major junior a go.

It wouldn’t be the first time a guy up and dropped his college plans to give the CHL a go, and it’s not the first time the suggestion has been made that true stars get paid handsomely to do so.

I don’t know if the Trouba offer is legit or not (though from what I’ve heard in the past, if I had to guess, I’d say “true but not for that much”), but I do know that CHL teams occasionally do offer players money to forego their college years and education. Here, take the dollars while you can, now set to work on becoming a pro right away.

So you’re the kid… what’s the right answer? Do you take a $100k four-year education at a University of your choosing (for the best players), or do you take a lump sum – let’s say it is $200k – while you can, sign your entry level deal (again, the best players), and take the signing bonus right off the top? In Trouba’s case, he could be looking at a half-million dollars before he’s 19 years old.

The arguments are simple – one, you only have so many hockey-playing years in your body — get dat money. You can always use it to go back to school if that’s something you really want. You never know what’s going to happen, when you might have a career-ending injury, so again…get dat money.

Two, you only have one opportunity to be a 19-year old college student (don’t kid yourself that going back to school after is going to be the same experience), your education is paid for (and worth quite a lot of dollars after hockey, especially if you add to it), you get to, y’know, be an educated person, you can still make it to the NHL easily, you have time to develop…there’s pros and cons all over. (For more on my CHL vs. NCAA take, read this.)

It’s not an easy decision, but for me….I say get dat money (assuming it’s $200k and I can grab a signing bonus – otherwise, it’d take some real thinking.)

If there are a lot of people thinking like me, the college product would inevitably suffer, as the best players would leave and it wouldn’t develop players as well. Those things bring us back to the classic ”amateur college athlete” question: shouldn’t the NCAA pay its players? Why romanticize the concept of “amateur” when it means “earn someone else money with your effort?”

After all, the NCAA rakes in heaping piles of money like leaves every year, and its on the backs of the blood and sweat of the student-athletes who aren’t compensated beyond their education. Obviously there’s huge value in going to school for free, but when a guy like Trouba can make money for a CHL employer with his play and have a huge chunk of it returned to him, or do the same for the NCAA who keeps it all…something seems off.

My contention is this: the NCAA should pay its players, but pay the ones who deserve to be paid. As in, not me. If we’re going to be capitalist, don’t dole money out evenly.

You cannot compare what a superstar in college football – say Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy or whoever – brings the NCAA financially, to what I brought to it. I played in front of anywhere between 3,000-to-4,000 people a night, 18 times a year at home in Alaska (three-to-four times more on the road, but still). I don’t feel like I deserved any additional compensation than my education, a stipend, some meals, and an opportunity.

Someone like Jacob Trouba, however, is where the NCAA is off-base. He’s the kind of player that keeps college hockey relevant, and makes other players want to go to college because they get to play the best. He’ll bring fans in and sell tickets. And when he goes on to be a stud in the NHL, college hockey gets even more credibility.

It sucks that money rules the way it does, because I’m pro-education, and pro-college hockey. But first and foremost, I’m anti-naiveté when it comes to this stuff. If major junior is suddenly a way to make bank, the NCAA is going to lose some of its best talent every year.

If the NCAA doesn’t want to pay it’s best players, the quality of college hockey could diminish. They can rake in the bucks now, but if going to college becomes a non-viable route to the show, the money-leaves on the ground will start to dry up. (And none of this is to mention the moral angle of paying the people who are making you money.)

Paying college players won’t happen for a long, long time, but that doesn’t mean that the point isn’t correct today.

If Jacob Trouba leaves for the money, who could fault him? College hockey is a wonderful thing, but when it comes down to it, cash is king.

Comments (9)

  1. It’s interesting, I live in Kitchener and am a Ranger fan. I for one don’t care if they have promised Trouba money. I cheer for the team to win championships and as i see it, not my problem the NCAA has rules that make themselves the worst enemy to college hockey

    look at the players that have left at the last minute, you can make a list of pretty good hockey players of just the ones that have come to Kitchener. People have to ask themselves what changed? what swung things in the OHL’s favour. it’s not more games, which is more time on a bus. a NHL caliber players will make the NHL no matter where they play. it’s only fair the relaxed rules about being professional and ‘educational packages’ help things.

    in the end if it means the best players come to kitchener, increasing the chances they are going to win championships and have to spend some money to do it? what do i care.

  2. Arguably, the guys who would benefit most (on average) from a college education are those least confident in their abilities to stick it in the big leagues (giving them a fall back option). Whereas the guys most confident in their abilities to stick it would likely benefit from the additional time allowed to focus on the sport in Junior.

    From a long-term perspective, if you are going to come out with some degree you have no inclination of using then what is the point in wasting the time studying. On the other hand, if it’s a dedicated fall back option it’s probably worth the time.

  3. I’m with Justin, if you can get the money take the money. This guy may be injured and may never make the NHL, so now he has some money he can hopefully invest wisely to help him get a collage education later in life.

    Also, as for missing out on the collage experience, how different is that than say, playing for a CHL team in Canada (parties, girls, etc) I can’t imagine it’d wouldn’t be very similar.

    My only concern with this is how it will effect power house CHL teams. There are some teams in big cities that could be able to afford these pay outs to top prospects, but will this create a gap between them and the “have not” CHL towns?

  4. if it were me, id take the money and play jr.
    college can wait, i barely went as an 18 year old went back in my mid 20′s.
    no, the experience isnt the same, but you could say the same for the jr experience.

    if a player, like trouba, has a better than average shot at the show, it makes sense to go where theyd have the best chance to prepare for the pro life.

    for profit education, and all that entails, is a joke.

  5. It would be very interesting to see how quickly the NCAA changed their tune on this policy if Football had a competition league like Hockey does in the CHL. Since there’s nowhere else for football and basketball players to go but the NCAA, they have no incentive to pay their players. Hockey doesn’t bring in nearly as much money as those two sports, so there’s still no incentive.

    Someone needs to form a competitive junior football league for high school graduates.

  6. He won’t even miss out on education. While playing in the OHL he would be on full scholarship regardless of where he went including textbooks, fees, living expenses etc. He also earns a scholarship for each year of time spent in the OHL. On top of that – $200K will more than cover whatever remaining education costs he may ever have.

    Honestly I have nothing but respect for the NCAA and the kids who play there – but it makes almost ZERO sense for an elite talent to play NCAA hockey if he’s got a chance to play in the CHL. Getting an education is important – but there is no way you can tell me you couldn’t get the same education that you would get at the University of North Dakota or Boston College elsewhere, after your hockey days are done. (for much cheaper).

  7. Sure NCAA is rich, but does that money come from college hockey? I mean, sure hockey probably supports itself with ticket sales, but I have to look hard to see college hockey on TV. I just don’t see it being flushed with cash, especially beyond the top tier programs.

    • Depends on the city/college. At the Minnesota colleges and UND(not including the Gophers,cause Basketball and Football do well there) Hockey pretty much funds the rest of the sports.

  8. The point is being missed here. Kitchener is not allowed to pay him 200K to come play, that should be the issue

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