July 24, 2004
Montoya: "Staying at Michigan"
First-round NHL pick decides to return for junior season

The Rangers will have to wait for the services of first-round pick Al Montoya.

By Mike Eidelbes

Al Montoya penned the last chapter of his captivating off-season story Friday night, informing Michigan coach Red Berenson that he was returning to school for his junior campaign.

The Wolverine goaltender contemplated a jump to the professional ranks after the New York Rangers used the sixth overall pick in last month’s National Hockey League Entry Draft to take Montoya. The Glenview, Ill., native rocketed to the top of the prospect rankings for the 2004 draft after being named the Most Outstanding Goaltender at this year’s World Junior Championships, where he helped the U.S. to its first gold medal in that event.

The Life of Al

Al Montoya has graciously shared his thoughts on the NHL Draft process with Inside College Hockey and ESPN.com readers. We've also told the tale of the goalie who could be the next light on Broadway. A look back at his other entries:

If I Can Make it There ...
Special Threads
Draft Dodger
The Next Step

“I talked with my family and close friends of mine and when it came down to it, my heart wasn’t fully into going professional. It definitely was there with staying at Michigan,” Montoya told Inside College Hockey. “This is the year for our team and I can develop just as well at Michigan as anywhere else.”

With Montoya in the fold, Michigan will likely start the 2004-05 season as the nation’s top-ranked team. The Wolverines lost just one key contributor – defenseman Andy Burnes – to graduation.

“Every year you play at Michigan you’re expected to win and this year is no different. It’s just that this year, the stakes are higher,” Montoya said. “I’m glad I made my decision early and now I can get focused on what I want to do and get ready for the season which is right around the corner.”

Montoya will participate in next month’s U.S. National Junior Team tryout camp in Grand Forks, N.D., next month. Classes at Michigan resume Sept. 8.

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