The Gophers hockey team loses another player to the NHL. Stu Bickel signed a three-year free-agent contract with the Anaheim Ducks today. Bickel’s contract is reportedly worth the maximum amount, including an $85,000 signing bonus. I think these kids see the chance at a paycheck and just jump. Sure, Bickel will make approximately $67,500 if he plays, as expected, for the Ducks' American Hockey League affiliate in Des Moines, Iowa, but it sucks for the Gophers to lose another quality hockey player. I guess the $67K is more than a college graduate usually gets anyway, so Bickel figures he might as well collect the cash playing hockey and he can finish his education later on. It really sucks for the Gophers because Don Lucia was counting on Stu Bickel to be a leader on the Gophers hockey team this year.
There appears to be an epidemic of college hockey players going pro before finishing their commitments to their Universities, but what do you do? Any sort of regulation would be an infringement on personal choice. I guess I would just hope that the NHL would want mature experienced players, but when the free agent market is weak, the NHL is going to raid the college players. Let’s just hope this is a phase and the NHL will grow out of it.