There are literally thousands of reasons why some amazing young hockey players never make it. Some are from the genre of BS that your Dad’s buddies tell you to explain why they fell short (knee injuries, coach hated them, relationship issues), some are legit (knee injuries, coach hated them, relationship issues), and some just…are. There’s a lot of luck involved with fringe players, and sometimes the dice roll comes up snake eyes.
Whatever the case, we all have dozens upon dozens of stories of players that we thought were virtual locks to make it to the bigs, and for whatever reason things just didn’t go as planned.
I was thinking about a couple of those guys the other day when I threw it out on Twitter: who’s the best player you’ve ever seen in major junior or college hockey that didn’t make it? I got a ton of feedback, so I thought I’d compile a list. (If you’ve got a name that’s not on here, add it in the comments.)
Obviously my bias is going to be skewed towards more recent years (if you go back too far points get way skewed), and in my case, heavily from the WCHA (NCAA), so again: I call on you to help us fill in the blanks. Also, I’m going to be using the definition of “never made it” loosely. While impressive in its own right, I’d say under a 100, 150 games or so total is a decent loose definition of a guy who never established himself in the NHL.
* The list is predominantly forwards, because nobody has any idea how to judge d-men and goalies without watching them and #points are #neat
* You know how to read stat lines, but a reminder:
|Games Played||Goals||Assists||Total Points||Penalty Minutes||Plus-Minus|
* The list starts with more recent players that I’m more familiar with, and gets older (and more major junior-centric) as you work downward.
* Teams like Atlanta, Carolina, Nashville, St. Louis and Toronto seems to come up a lot amongst players who fell just short, for whatever reason.
* This isn’t to embarrass the guys who were so close for not making it, or to call them out – it’s more to admire how great these players were/are, and to drop our collective jaws in awe at the incredible things they did in the sport and it still wasn’t good enough. It’s just good context for how hard it is to really make it.
Lets dive in.
|2005-06||U. of Wisconsin||WCHA||42||24||26||50||56|
Career peak: 47 NHL games with the Minnesota Wild.
Current status: Playing for Zug, Swiss-A league. Point-per-game guy there.
Comment: It’s mind blowing to think that Robbie Earl didn’t make it. He might be the best skater I’ve ever played against, he had a great shot, and even hit hard. I would not have predicted Joey Crabb having a longer NHL career than Robbie Earl back in college (no offense to Joey). Read the rest of this entry »