College Hockey News has an interesting and wide-ranging piece today about a proposed rule the NCAA is poised to vote on soon that would decrease by one year the age limit for incoming recruits in college hockey. Currently, that age limit is 21; the new rule would drop that down to 20. Players could still come in at age 21, but they would lose a year of eligibility and have just three years remaining.
What’s particularly interesting is that the article frames this as a power play of sorts by the Big Ten, which typically recruits younger players. Per the story:
Because the Big Ten is the only member of the hockey community that is an “all-sports conference,” it has the power to propose legislation directly to the NCAA. This was done during the summer at the request of its six coaches, first proposed by Minnesota’s Don Lucia, without the knowledge of the other conferences.
And other coaches in other conferences aren’t happy. College Hockey News quotes plenty of them and also obtained a poll that shows 49 of 60 college hockey coaches are not in favor of the proposed legislation. Again, per the story:
The criticism has come on two levels: 1. That the legislation will only give Big Ten schools more advantages than it already has, while hurting those schools that rely upon older players for competitive balance; and 2. That the legislation was not discussed among the larger college hockey community before being introduced to the NCAA.
The story quotes a Big Ten official worried about 17-year-olds potentially playing against 24- and 25-year-olds. To that, though, there is this: nobody is forcing Big Ten schools to recruit younger players (though it is true that admissions standards at Big Ten schools might be more strict than at other schools).
Interestingly, the Gophers have three 18-year-old freshmen on this year’s team, including one (Brent Gates Jr.) who just turned 18 in August. But they also have a freshman goalie (Brock Kautz) who turned 21 in June.
The article also speculates that this proposal gained steam when the Gophers lost to an older Union team in the championship game two seasons ago.
In any event, it’s worth a read. Few demographics get worked up quite like hockey coaches, so it’s pretty entertaining.