Mack’s Mailbag: CHL vs. NCAA debate

What’s your take on the CHL vs. NCAA debate? I read that Sportsnet column this week and really disagree with it. CHL prevents so many things for the NCAA.

I also read the column you’re referring to. And, it made some good points. First of all, the rules that limit the NCAA when it comes to competing with the CHL for players were implemented by themselves. From the CHL perspective, there is no reason why the NCAA can’t come into their league and poach players just like the CHL does to the NCAA, expect for the fact that the NCAA has rules against it. Some of the points made were ridiculous. The point that NCAA programs recruit kids in their Grade 9 year, while true, is the pot calling the kettle black when the CHL holds a bantam draft for 14 year olds. What College Hockey, Inc. is trying to incorporate is good for the college game. Ultimately, both sides have put tremendous pressure on kids who, by their nature, have no idea what they want and will change their minds endlessly for years. A 14 year old can’t, and shouldn’t, be asked to ultimately choose a career path. He’s 14. The NCAA realizes there is a problem. The CHL, which is on the positive end of the issue, likes to pretend like nothing is wrong.

Why is the CHL more attractive to some players?

Some like the ability to play more games. Personally though, games aren’t what help younger players who are looking to develop. If my son were trying to choose between Major Junior and NCAA hockey, for me anyway, the choice is simple. Go get a college education (potentially with a financial assistance) and use the added practice time by virtue of having less games to appropriately develop your skills. That’s a big reason hockey in Massachusetts — high school hockey, I mean — is not where it was 20 years ago, in my opinion. Everyone around here is obsessed with games. It’s more than that. Younger players, especially high school age, should be working with a trainer, getting stronger and taking necessary steps in skill development. You don’t get better playing games. You get better practicing, and applying what you learn in games. Conditioning is often an overlooked aspect, too. It’s hard to properly condition yourself when you’re playing 80 games per year. Why do you think you don’t see NHL players playing games all summer? They need to recuperate.

Any update on Carter Madsen? How’s he doing? Is he out of the hospital yet?

Yes, he was released from the hospital last week. But, it sounded like he needed to have another surgery this week, which may or may not have already occurred.

Are you excited about the Merrimack-Lowell rivalry coming back this weekend?

If it develops into something, then great, but I think it’s probably premature, at least at this point, to say the rivalry has been renewed. It’s definitely the biggest regular season game these programs will have, against each other, maybe since the Division 2 days in the 1980’s. From a national and Hockey East perspective, Friday night is one of the premiere games on the weekend. If both programs keep the path they seem to be set on, it could organically turn into a heated rivalry again.

Did you watch UFC 143? What did you think of the Condit fight? I hope (Nick) Diaz doesn’t retire.

Carlos Condit definitely won the fight, which surprised me. I had Nick Diaz picked. Condit actually got better as the fight progressed and won the last few rounds, which is the exact opposite of what I thought would happen. Diaz has the big-fight experience, much more than Condit, and generally speaking, the guys who have been there before tend to take those fourth and fifth rounds, especially when you have fighters who have little title experience and haven’t been in fights that last that long. But give Condit credit, his conditioning was incredible and he won a sound decision. … And don’t believe for a second that Diaz is retiring. He has a big mouth, likes to talk, and when Dana White comes calling with his checkbook open again, he’ll be back in the octagon. Besides, he still has fights left on his contract.

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