Thursday, November 5, 2015

Bracco Bolts BC

Bracco Bolts BC after 5 Games
The CHL/NCAA war over teenage hockey prospects just suffered its latest chapter Wednesday. Supreme prospect Jeremy Bracco (Toronto Maple Leafs/Team USA World Juniors) bolted B.C. in broad daylight for the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL. For American hockey fans, it leaves a dreadful taste. The kindest soul in hockey, head coach Jerry York, gets ramrodded by the departure, burned by yet another elite American groomed at USA Hockey's National Team Development Program. In the past 14 months BC has lost Sonny Milano a month before his scheduled arrival on campus, Noah  Hanifin to the Hurricanes after a single season at the Heights (it was obvious to many observers he needed at least another year of seasoning in the NCAA) and now Bracco. But unlike the prior two, Bracco's departure left a rupture. Imagine being his teammate at practice Tuesday, showering with the kid, and then reading that he's flown the coop for Canada on the next morning's Twitter feed. There's looking out for one's best interest, and then there is outright betrayal.

A couple of things after trying to digest this rotten news: you can't excoriate the kid, because he is, after all, a kid. If he is surrounded by sycophants who tell him he's great, deserves more power play time, and will have a more direct route to the NHL if he takes the major junior route, you get a better idea what went into the move. Who, after all, is looking out for his best interests? Anyone who says bolting BC a month into his college career is in his best interest is lying. Jerry York's mantra is to send his players off with a diploma and a ring. It worked for Kevin  Hayes, and if Johnny Gaudreau honors the oath he swore to his mom, it will be true for him also. Instead Bracco leaves behind scorched earth in the form of angry teammates (rumblings from the Heights is that his NTDP mates are PISSED) and a jilted coach, the kindest mentor in the business. Is Bracco ever coming back to claim his junk from the dorm? I wonder how that will go down. BC Sophomore Alex Tuch, a fellow NTDP product, will team up with Bracco again in December at the World Juniors. How will that play out?

What kind of values are being instilled here? The stereotype of the selfish travel hockey star is personified by Bracco's final act at BC, impersonating a teammate on the ice Tuesday, the only one on the ice knowing that he would bolt the program the next morning. His parents, agent and the Kitchener Rangers were all in cahoots in this unsavory act. Bobby  Orr's company is the official "Family Advisor" in this affair. Despite his permanent Saint status in the Bay State, Orr has always been loyal to Canadian junior hockey. He was the man who diverted Paul  Mara from his Ivy League career track to play in the OHL. While Mara enjoyed a plentiful career in the NHL, he is out of hockey, and has no Harvard diploma or contacts to fall back on. Bracco's dad was a Division I NCAA goalie, yet he yanked his kid from the institution that would set his son up for life in Boston. What was he thinking?

For perspective, College Hockey, Inc.'s Nate Ewell says that CHL college raids like this are less frequent now than in the past. Kudos to Mike  McMahon of CHN for breaking this story, but its run through the news cycle lasted but a day. The stink, however, lingers on. 

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