December 27, 2007
NHL to Study College Hockey Issues

By Mike Eidelbes

National Hockey League Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told Inside College Hockey Thursday that the league’s general managers will form a committee to study the league’s relationship with college hockey programs in early 2008.

“Our general managers decided to form a committee to take a look at college issues generally and to make recommendations to the broader group on ways to strengthen the NHL's relationship with college programs,” Daly said via e-mail. “The maintenance of college hockey as a strong and dependable source of playing talent over the long term is certainly consistent with the best interests of the National Hockey League.”

Daly added that the GMs made the decision to examine the issue prior to Kyle Okposo’s decision earlier this month to leave the University of Minnesota and sign with the New York Islanders, which selected him with the seventh overall pick in the 2006 entry draft. The announcement ignited a firestorm of controversy in college hockey circles. Isles general manager Garth Snow, a four-year letterwinner at Maine, fanned the flames when he criticized the Gopher coaching staff for failing to foster Okposo’s development.

With regard to the Okposo signing, Daly said the league has no position on the matter. “Players have the right to make the decision that they feel are best for them, and they've always had that right,” he said.

Nevertheless, midseason signings like Okposo's are sure to be discussed by the yet-to-be-formed committee. Other topics likely to receive mention include early departures from college (following a summer that included a bevy of underclassmen signing) and how long NHL teams hold the rights to college players they draft (a rule that was tweaked in the NHL collective bargaining agreement that went into effect in 2005).