Are Falling Off...Falling Off.. Falling Off.. The Wheels on the Bus are Falling Off All Through Dinkytown.
Ok, maybe not Dinkytown but definitely inside the Mariucci Arena's Home Men's Hockey Locker Room.
The biggest news is Sophomore Josh Birkholz, a former skater with the Fargo Force (USHL), screwed the pooch and was looking at, rumor has it, up to 7 weeks of suspension during the upcoming hockey season... So he bolted for the WHL. Again, rumor has it that the Everett Silvertips signed him. From there, the speculation gets even more out there. There was rumor of drug use by Birkholz as being the culprit. If that's the case (and I, the author, do not claim that it is true), then Birkholz made one of the stupidest mistakes of his LIFE thus far.
People harass UND for their players stupidity when it comes to underage drinking or drunken shenanigans when it occurs, but, though stupidity is stupidity, at least UND didn't have to deal with illegal substances... well... substances that are illegal regardless of how old you are anyways. At least in recent memory.
Where should UND fans stand on this issue? Though I enjoy pointing out the hypocrisy of the whole situation, I do not take pleasure in the misfortune of the Gophers team. I don't feel sorry for Birkholz. It's his bed. He's sleeping in it (and probably going to sleep comfortably if the violation of team rules wasn't the rumored drug use).
Lucia is getting run through the grinder on this issue (and the next) about this but I can't honestly see how this is his fault. Lucia cannot correct stupidity of this magnitude. No one can except for the stupid person him/herself should they desire to correct the issue.
But if you want to blame anyone, blame that incompetent buffoon John Hill. Why? Just because. He's losing Lucia's job for him.
It now appears that Gopher Defenseman Nick Leddy will indeed sign with the Blackhawks.
Whatta ya know, Hillsy, you didn't blow it with him.... but Nick decided to bolt before Hill could compromise what progress Leddy's made.
I don't know what will happen with Leddy. Will he stick in the NHL? I am not too optimistic on this. If he does, he either played incredibly or the Hawks are in trouble more than they already are. Will he be sent to a MJ team? I don't know. I'm not sure I understand why an NHL team would waste a year's salary on sending a kid to a major junior team. If you're paying the guy, he should be either in the ECHL or AHL, imo, if he's not going to be in the NHL.
Oh, and Lucia is getting raked over the coals for this. He can't win. And he won't. This upcoming season, I don't see their defense getting any better than it was last year. I think their offense will be ok. I wonder if Lucia will do the right thing and start taking over certain duties that Hill oversees and, if Maturi gets ants in his pants to make some changes, I wonder if Lucia can put aside his friendship with Hill to do what is necessary: Cut the cord.
So who is going to be brought in to replace these two? Rumor has it that it will be Max Gardiner to replace Birkholz, and it looks pretty certain to be true to me. However, Seth Ambroz makes MUCH more sense.
We'll watch on...
UND gets the MJHL MVP: Taylor Dickin
He scored major points for the Selkirk team of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and was named MVP. He's 21 years old... and he won't be eligible to play until January.
What does this mean for Holst? Why in the world can't Taylor Dickin, who I assume graduated High School at 18, be ready for college 3 years post graduation?
Brad Schlossman suggests that Dickin is the recruited walk on he heard about earlier this summer. With Holst not clearing the NCAA Clearinghouse yet, I wonder what Holst's status is?
The good news is that this is more interesting than NHL Free Agency this year.