This is a week old now, but it certainly doesn’t reflect well on the NHLPA. It just makes you want to sigh at the ignorance about this market that still persists in the hockey world -- among insiders in the hockey world.
In the same month that a North Carolina player claimed a first-line spot on the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, playing alongside first-round draft pick Alex Galchenyuk; the same month that the first North Carolina player joined USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program; the same month that a North Carolina goalie was named to NHL Central Scouting’s preseason watch list for the 2013 NHL Draft; NHLPA executive Mathieu Schneider, a former NHL defenseman, called the state of youth hockey in North Carolina “anemic.”
“I look at Florida, I played in Atlanta, I played in Phoenix, Carolina, the minor hockey is anemic there,” Schneider said. “I think there’s huge potential for those markets. You have rabid fans that come to the game on any given night when a team’s having a successful playoff run -- like you saw in Florida, like you’ve seen in Carolina where they’ve won a cup. I think there’s huge potential for the game to grow in those areas.”
Schneider, a special assistant to the NHLPA executive director, was speaking on the Sept. 17 edition of the Marek vs. Wyshynski podcast. (The comments are about two-thirds of the way through.)
And just when you thought the days of the Hurricanes being lumped in with Florida, Phoenix and Atlanta were over.
“Anemic” compared to what? Toronto? The growth in hockey in this market, even since 2006, is staggering. Fifteen years after the NHL arrived in the state, North Carolina is producing NHL draft prospects. It’s producing Division I college players (male and female). It’s producing top USA Hockey prospects.
It’s doing all the things Schneider, in the same interview, praised markets like Dallas and Southern California for doing -- markets that had a five-year (or more) head start on North Carolina.
This is just the vanguard. Check back in five years. If Schneider and the NHLPA were paying attention, you'd think they’d know that.
If this is how out of touch the NHLPA is with the markets it’s allegedly trying to support, no wonder the NHL season’s shut down for the second time in eight years.