Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Unnamed former Gopher creates a stir

If you go to this WCCO news report, you'll find that there is some political talk about creating a law that prevents state money from being used by Minnesota schools to provide athletic scholarships to non-American student athletes. Apparently this stemmed from a former Gopher player speaking up to his local representatives on the topic.

Of course, the immediate reaction from fans of other teams falls back on the weak Gopher conspiracy stuff. Obviously if this became a law, it would damage schools like UMD and SCSU as they have recruited a decent percentage of foreign players over the years. The reality is one former player does not represent the opinion of the program or its fan following. Let's remember, one of the greatest Gophers of recent memory was an Austrian... do we really want to pass up on the occasional star from another country just because a small percentage of people are overly provincial?

My guess is this ex-player is one of those old school types that doesn't like seeing Minnesota kids not get most/all of the opportunities to play in their home state. He doesn't like seeing kids have to leave home because some Canuck comes into town to "steal" opportunities. These are the same types of guys that whine any time the Gophers bring in an out of state kid.

On one hand, I do think some schools could do a better job of bringing in Minnesota kids and not going north of the border as often as they do. At the same time, the time to be provincial like this is long gone. We don't need a law like this. Minnesota kids don't have to rely on in-state schools to "bail" them out any more because nobody else will give them a chance. These aren't the days of John Mariucci where Minnesotans (or Americans in general) were constantly getting the shaft as certain college programs favored older Canadians all the time. Minnesota kids are all over the hockey landscape these days and, at last look, filled up more roster spots across college hockey than just about any state/province. The opportunities for MN kids are plentiful.

These old school types need to "get over it" and recognize the world has changed. I also think that fans of the other in-state programs need to grasp the reality that the Gopher program and most of the fans don't agree with the attitude of these old school attitudes.