Wednesday, December 3, 2008

100 Point Man Can't Make U.S Team?



  • Are you kidding me. A 100 point man in the Western Hockey League can't make the U.S World Junior Team? Rockets forward Colin Long was left off the 22 man roster announced by U.S Hockey today. If Long was a Canadian, would he have had a better shot of representing this country at the World Juniors? He would most certainly be among the 38 players attending Team Canada's selection camp next week in Ottawa.
  • Long is on pace to score 112 points this season, but who's counting?
  • Five players from the WHL were selected to the U.S Team. Seattle's Jim O'Brien and Spokane's Tyler Johnson are two players that I question being selected over Long on the 22 man roster. I am not saying O'Brien and Johnson are not good players, but are they better than Long? Look at the numbers:

  • Long: 16+24=40

  • O'Brien: 10+16=26 (14 fewer points than Long)

  • Johnson: 7+15=22 (18 fewer points than Long)

  • For argument sake lets say O'Brien and Johnson are better defensively than Long. Or are they? Long is a +9 this season, and is a +31 over the last two seasons. O'Brien is a +7 this season and a +29 over the last two seasons. Johnson is a +10 this season, and a +27 over the last two seasons.

  • If Long was on a level footing with a U.S college player on the depth chart, would that U.S college player have received the nod over the renegade that fled to Canada to chase his hockey dream?

  • While you may not think its a big deal for Long to be excluded from playing for the U-S, is their anything greater for an American then to represent his or her country on the international stage? Is their nothing greater than to hear the Star Spangled Banner played as you wear your country's colours? Canadian pride is nothing close to what our friends to the South exude.

  • While Rockets fans will think this is good news considering Long won't miss any games with his junior team, I look at this as a once in a lifetime chance. At 19, Long is ineligible to play at the World Juniors next season.

  • When the World Juniors start on boxing day, Kelowna Rockets fans will be cheering even a little harder now to see the Americans go down to defeat. If Colin Long is among that group, I don't blame him.

9 comments:

T.D. said...

Brillant piece, Regan. It's well said, concise, and well supported.

I can't believe usa hockey is so myopic that they would pass over a kid with his credentials. More pts than the rest of the other americans the past two years, plus he was the second leading scorer at the usa evaluation camp this summer.

As I said below, this is just another reason/example why usa hockey swims deep I'm the waters of mediocrity. Shame on usa hockey.

I feel bad for Long. He was deserving of the opportunity.

tv said...

As an American I have to disagree with you about our American pride trumping Canada's level of pride. I love how at many Canadian rinks they all sing along to the national anthem. Seeing the Oilers fans do it a few years ago in the playoffs gave me chills watching it.

Regan Bartel said...

I know of the example you give, and it indeed is a powerful display of pride.
I agree we (Canadians) have pride when it comes to the game of hockey. But I see Americans passionate about all sports, with the Olympics a good example of that. What is cool is we admire you and you admire us.

caley said...

While I agree it's pretty ridiculous that Long is left off the roster, there are probably a combination of reasons:
-Lack of scouting. Johnson and O'Brien both play for American teams, Long plays for a Canadian one. It shouldn't be a huge factor, but it is. If you're sending US scouts to watch player, it's much easier to send them to Washington and Portland, than it is to send them up into Canada to watch a few games.

-Type of players. O'Brien has the size (6'2") to be useful on North American rinks to make room for skill players, while Johnson will likely center the energy line and kill penalties, neither of which are attributes (wrongly or rightly) associated with Long.

-With Colin Wilson, Drayson Bowman, Mitch Wahl, James VanRimesdyk, and Jordan Schroder all but being guaranteed spots on one of the top two lines, it left Long battling for one of two spots, which I'm guessing are going to be given to bigger players such as Eric Tangradi and Jimmy Hayes.

-The stupidity of USA Hockey. I'm not talking about passing up on Long, here, I'm talking about the fact that they don't do the same thing and have an evaluation camp before the tournament. USA Hockey simply names its team in December, there's no competition for spots. You would think they would follow the success of Hockey Canada and hold a pre-tournament camp and give guys a chance to catch their eye, but...what can you do?

I wouldn't feel too bad for Long, while he's missing a once-in-a-lifetime chance, with the way he's playing, it won't be long before USA Hockey comes calling for Long to be a part of the US World Championship/Olympic teams.

tim said...

Regan you are such a homer. You talk about plus/minus all the time. It is such a BS stat. Long plays on one of the best lines in the CHL. Obviously he is going to have a good plus/minus when they score so many goals. Put him on a weaker team and see where he ends up. Oh but hang on you forgot to put his +/- from the 06/07 season when he did not play with Benn and Kelowna was not that good. -29. Having said that Long is good but he plays a pretty soft game. Maybe they needed some grit.

Rocketwatcher said...

Boys Boys Boys!! While you all were congratulating each other on the successful recruiting of Kelowna's #1 pick, Hockey USA was sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner and decided to roast Bruce Hamilton's stud center Colin Long instead of a Palin turkey.....too bad Colin you are truly deserving of the honor...but don't ever lose sight of the type of people you are dealing with in the US. Ask the kids whose scholarships were pulled in 1978. Petty....Go Canada.

T.D. said...

Tim-

Just a couple of points:

Long has positive numbers because he plays on one of the best lines in the CHL? That point doesn't make sense. Long has had success because he is one of the best players in the CHL, the line has consequently had success, therefore is one of the best of the CHL. The line is successful because of Benn and Long (and last year the irreplaceable Leovold). They are all great players, and they all make the line successful.

Further, you mention his negative numbers from when he was 16/17 yrs old. Yes, his numbers sucked that year, but so did the entire team. Moreover, he's improved (that's what you're suppose to do, get better not worse with age). That's the reason world junior teams have 20/19 year olds and not kids who are still improving.

The +- numbers do matter. Its the key component the nhl uses in determining the selke winner. I disagree that its a bs stat.

Regan maybe a homer on this issue, and maybe he should. Who in the US is sounding off for Long? Apparently no one. As a fan of the Rockets I am glad someone is pointing out USA hockey's flawed decision making process, and the exclusion of a player that scored 100 pts last year in a defense oriented league.

And finally, I disagree Long does not display grit. This year in particular he has started to play with more of a physical edge. His work on both the forecheck and backcheck have inproved. Its one of the reasons they have been good in limiting shots against their goaltender this year.

hocus_lopez said...

Rocketwatcher-that is a great observation about McCologan (sp?). I imagine its a real thorn in the side of NCAA and USA hockey to lose a guy like that to the WHL. Also, I'm sure they're trying to send a message to futre defectors, you go to Canada then no red white and blue for you.

Its too bad its the players that have to pay the price for the petty politics of USA hockey.

Canada hockey is all class, the fans exude class, and I hope they continue to have success at yet another international tournament.

Loft25 said...

Caught the interview on XM this morning with Jim Johnannson, Asst. Director of Hockey Operations for USA Hockey out of Co. Springs. He said something like "This team may not be the best 22 players from the US, but they were picked to be the best team to win the tournament" These guys must watch "Miracle" on a regular basis, and they aren't Herb Brooks. Just as the 72 Russia Series may have finally been put to bed by Canadians, the US needs to do the same with 1980. Wait; like Caley says, they could have actually had a 40 man try-out camp in Lake Placid next week like Canada is having and actually pick players who have a hot hand, like Colin Long is having now. That would be a fine tribute to the Brooks memory. I watched Kamloops embarass Spokane last weekend, and the top trio did not look good. Not to say that they shouldn't be on the team, but alot can happen in 6 months, and picking a team based on last years performance reeks of smug group think. If the US medals they will be lucky.