Has the question been asked?

Carlos Amestoy’s departure from the University of Maine hockey program last week was definitely noteworthy. No, more than noteworthy. But in scouring the traditional local news outlets, nary a word was mentioned about Amestoy’s departure last week to Saginaw of the Ontario Hockey League. As an optimist, I hope the right people are asking questions about this departure. Even if they’re not being answered. (It’s just as easy to write that an entity or a person will not comment on a situation, but the news is out there for consumption.)

But back to Amestoy’s departure. In the interest of disclosure, I covered the Maine hockey team for more than three seasons and I’m not targeting Amestoy or the program whatsoever. Just putting out the facts.

Amestoy wasn’t one of Maine’s more prominent players. In fact, he was used sparingly at forward by the Black Bears in less than a season and a half. Amestoy had committed to Maine in April of  2008, and entered the school and the program as a freshman last fall. In 15 games in less than two seasons, Amestoy did not register a point.

Thursday and Friday, prior to Maine’s series against UMass-Lowell, the word got out – via Twitter  – that Amestoy was leaving Maine for the pastures of the Ontario Hockey League.

Credit Maine assistant captain Mike Cornell for breaking the news Nov. 10:

@M_Cornell: Really going to miss @camestoy92, but excited for his fresh start up North! Great kid Great Player… #Confidence

Saginaw posted a news release on its website on Amestoy’s acquisition on Nov. 11. Then, Amestoy commented two days later on his departure from Maine, via Twitter:

@camestoy92: Thank you to all of my friends and team mates back at Maine for their support.

Why is this news? This is a player leaving an established college hockey program for a major-junior program, a hot-button topic in college hockey.

This situation is a conflict of sorts – though not in the traditional sense of the word “conflict.” And as a former reporter once told me, conflict is news.

Amestoy has not publicly stated the reasons for his departure. Maine has not publicly commented on Amestoy’s departure. It begs the question – did anybody in the traditional media ASK about Amestoy’s departure?

***

On a related note …

Maybe this is more ammunition for the CHL in the major-junior vs. college hockey battle that’s prevalent – in the media, in the blogosphere, part of the impetus behind the formation of College Hockey, Inc., a Massachusetts-based organization that promotes college hockey as an avenue for players. (Further disclosure – I have worked with College Hockey, Inc. as a freelance writer.)

Some background: College hockey, as a collective institution, is faced with the problem every year of players who commit to colleges then break that commitment to instead join major-junior or professional teams. In a way, it leaves college hockey programs holding the proverbial bag.

Maybe a player is not up-to-snuff academically. (Or, as one former college hockey player put it a few years ago after his early departure from a Hockey East school, “I just didn’t want to go to class anymore.”)

Maybe a player is lured by the riches of the NHL or the possibility of playing in the NHL. Or a player is lured by the riches of major-junior programs.  The majority of that was unsubstantiated conjecture until ESPN’s Craig Custance, who was then with The Sporting News, examined the issue in a revealing piece that ran in August.

http://aol.sportingnews.com/nhl/story/2011-08-30/nhl-colleges-wage-war-with-canadian-junior-hockey-ohl-whl-qmjhl

Because of an unexpected departure, chances are that a program has to scramble to fill that hole – maybe days or weeks prior to the start of captain’s practices in September.

And college coaches, College Hockey Inc., the Canadian major-junior teams and the NHL have tried to discuss ways to not so much dissolve the conflict but to harness it somehow.

And it’s a conflict that’s either in dire need of a resolution, or one that may never be resolved.

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