Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 07/08/10 at 10:33 PM ET
The Edmonton Oilers grew tired of waiting for their 2007 first round draft selection Riley Nash to come around. He committed to playing (and, ostensibly, studying) at Cornell University, much to the chagrin of Oilers staff and fanbase. They finally shed him to the Hurricanes on draft day, and he seems to be having a slightly different attitude now. He’s suggested that he’s at least considering forgoing his Senior year at the Ivy League school for a career in the NHL. Whereas he used to say that he didn’t consider the option in Edmonton, he’s giving it some thought in Carolina. Although his decision can technically wait until at least April of 2011, he has said that he’s not going to keep anybody guessing.
Nash has joked that he’s going to hold a LeBron-esque press conference to announce his intentions. Seriously, though, he’s said that he’s not going to keep anyone in the dark. By this time next week, we will know whether the promising center will finish his college degree or turn pro. Ron Francis has made his wishes abundantly clear, and I would have to think that this will have some influence on the young man’s decision.
There’s really not much that Nash can stand to gain from a hockey standpoint by playing another year of collegiate hockey. He’s said that, given the job market, he will give great consideration to completing his degree at Cornell. He opines that his Ivy League degree will be of great benefit to him. To this, I will simply point out that the NHL minimum salary is $500k. Nobody makes this straight out of college, even if they have a degree from an Ivy League school. He’s never going to have to worry about money, as he will be playing in the NHL someday very soon. Whether it’s this October or next remains to be seen, but I think that he’d be a fool not to turn pro.
The beautiful thing about education is that it’s never too late to finish. If his degree is that important to him, he could finish it in summer school, or really at any point in his adult life. In professional sports, one has to strike while the iron is hot. This is that time. And unlike the Edmonton Oilers, the Hurricanes have an immediate opening at center. This job opening, along with some talk from Hockey Hall of Fame resident Ron Francis, should be enough. Francis has already, in a number of ways, suggested to the youngster that a job was his for the taking.
Nash told the News & Observer that he wasn’t going to play any head games. When this prospects’ camp ends this weekend, he should be ready to make a decision about this October. n
If Nash decides to complete his degree at Cornell, he will have 30 days after that to sign with the Canes. Elsewise, he will re-enter the 2011 Entry Draft. My guess is that he signs with the Canes and jumps straight in to a position centering the third line.
Despite the fact that I’m taking a staycation this week, I’m unable to attend the prospect camp, so I can’t say anything that isn’t already in the papers. Everything I’ve heard and read so far suggests that Nash could easily step right in to a position on the big team. Carolina is in need of a third line centerman, and Nash just might be the man for the job.
If the young man signs with Carolina next week (and I think that he will), it will be a little bit of a slap to the face of Edmonton. He never even entertained the idea of signing with the team who drafted him. This is partly due to the fact that he knew he had little if any chance of cracking the roster on the big team. It’s also due to the fact that Nash doesn’t have any desire to play in the AHL. It’s all or nothing for him at this point. Along with most of Caniac nation, I’m hoping that he opts for the NHL.
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David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.