Lights, Camera, Action…

Not going to lie, I love a good movie. I love a good action film that has the right amount of drama and comedy.

I love watching things explode, dissipate and then the antagonist is left wondering how to pick up the pieces. You know what movie best fits that this summer: “As The Puck Knuckles.”

OK. That’s a working title but for now let us focus on the issue at hand. What has gone on this summer with the top American prospects leaving the college life for Major Juniors is something that for many hockey fans would qualify as a great movie. OK, great if you live in Canada but in America it would be about as passed over as “Gigli.”

Because there are days here on the blog where sarcasm and humor might just be better than the real thing, I am going to attempt (KEYWORD: attempt) to poke fun at this by posing this question:

Is “As The Puck Knuckles” the best movie this summer? Let’s find out.

- “As The Puck Knuckles” vs. “Harry Potter”: Let’s see. Both involve teens using sticks to create magic. Only problem is one is a fake story and the other is real. “Harry Potter” has dragged on for ten years. Reid Boucher hopes to toe drag people for ten years. Pretty easy to figure out who wins this one. Sorry England, you lost to North America. Again.

- “As The Puck Knuckles” vs. “Thor”: “Thor” is about a God that falls from the Heavens and has to rectify his life. How does that compare with a nation built on attempting to be the best at everything losing its top players to another country and then has to pick up the pieces? Yeah, it doesn’t.

- “As The Puck Knuckles” vs. “Priest”: American Hockey needs Jesus right now.

- “As The Puck Knuckles” vs. “Transformers: Dark of The Moon”: A group of people/things appearing to be one thing, and in truth are something different that you don’t see coming. Does this hit close to home with anyone?

- “As The Puck Knuckles” vs. “Captain America”: Both have to deal with America fighting a battle and relying on a superhuman, red-blooded, steak-eating American defending this nation. The way things are going, maybe Tyler Biggs would be the perfect leading man for this role after all.

Summer Breeze…

For those Force fans that didn’t see last night’s tweet (shame on you if that’s the case) defenseman Garrett Haar is returning to the team for this season.

Haar’s status for this season was up in the air and here’s why. He was drafted by the Washington Capitals and went to the team’s development camp where general manager George McPhee said he was the “surprise” of the camp.

It led to McPhee, who won the 1982 Hobey Baker Award at Bowling Green, calling his old coach, Jerry York, to see if Boston College had money available to get Haar into Chestnut Hill for this upcoming season.

The money wasn’t there but it just added to what’s arguably been the most interesting summer in Haar’s life. I’ll have a story in tomorrow’s Forum but this post will review Haar’s wild and interesting summer along with some comments from the man himself.

So here it is, Garrett Haar’s Summer O’ Fun:

JUNE 20: That’s when word starts to come out that Northeastern coach Greg Cronin will leave the school to become an assistant with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Cronin, who did take the Leafs job, had been rumored to leave going back to April and Haar got his summer off to a great start when a Chicago Blackhawks scout called him and asked if he’d be decommitting because of it.

Haar, “My thoughts on Northeastern were I was very happy to be going there I felt like I was going into a good position. With the rumors of Cronin leaving, I guess, it wasn’t a shock because he is such a good coach.”

 

JUNE 25: Haar was at home in Huntington Beach, Calif., where he was playing “Call of Duty” with his 12-year-old brother, Cooper, and then gets a call from the Washington Capitals telling him he’ll be selected with the 207th overall pick of the NHL Entry Draft.

Haar, “I wasn’t planning on it happening at all. I was one of those guys on the fence and I was told it could be in the late rounds. I don’t care that I was four picks away from not being drafted. I am getting as much of a shot at the NHL as the first-round draft picks. I am really excited about it and I am glad that it happened. Still didn’t plan on it happening.”

 

JUNE 26: A day after being drafted, Haar says that he will decommit from Northeastern. He became the first domino to fall in what’s been a turbulent summer for the Huskies after Calgary Flames Director of Scouting Tod Button said John Gaudreau would not be attending the school and that was couple with defenseman Jamie Oleksiak being rumored to leave the school to play Major Junior hockey for the upcoming season.

Haar, “When Cronin left it was like, ‘Oh man, why can’t things go the way they need to go.’ Decommitting from Northeastern wasn’t easy because I had a relationship with the coaches there and it was tough. But it was something I had to do.

 

JULY 16: Haar finishes the Capitals development camp where he scored four points (all assists) in four games leading McPhee to become so impressed that Haar could spend next season at Boston College instead of coming back to Fargo for a second season.

Haar, “I had the most fun I’ve ever had. They’re a professional team and it was a professional camp. Going from someone that almost didn’t get drafted to a well-known player at that camp, I think I’ve proved that did work hard and I did prove a lot of people wrong. I like being the underdog. I play my game with no worries. It was nice.”

 

JULY 20: As someone who had Twitter before draft, Haar tweeted every now and again but once he got drafted, more and more Capitals fans started asking questions about him and he decided to use his account more. He even asked one question that many got a laugh out of.

From Haar’s Twitter account, @Haar_Daddy_18: “Where am I going to be playing next season? I don’t even know that #unpredictable”

 

JULY 27: Using Twitter, again, Haar announces that he’s coming back to the Force for a second season.

Haar, “I started to tweet a little bit more so Caps fans could get to know me better and know where I am going from. I think with Twitter it’s a way to let people know what’s going on with me.”

Let The Beat Build…

No one can really blame National Team Development Coach Ron Rolston for leaving and taking the head job with the Rochester Americans.

But you can damn sure blame the schools that didn’t want to take a chance on hiring him. College hockey, to a degree American hockey, has had a “Who Shot JR?”-like summer with all these top-name guys leaving to go play Major Junior.

The college hockey vs. Major Junior argument has nothing to do with which provides better competition but in this case, development. Development is the key and though there are college programs that offer kids a chance to develop for the NHL, there aren’t enough of them that do it consistently.

Schools like Boston College, Boston University, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan have typically been those places in the last five to 10 years that offer development. Other than that, a lot of schools are more about winning than they are development.

A friend of mine made this argument last night and it’s a valid point: If you put more time into developing good players, the winning will take care of itself.

That’s why this column leads with Rolston and the schools that didn’t take a chance in wanting to hire him. Truthfully, there wasn’t a better non-college head coaching candidate this summer than Rolston and his track record is proof.

He has helped molded and shaped talents like Patrick Kane, James Van Riemsdyk in previous years while working with talent like John Gibson, Connor Murphy and JT Miller, all guys who are leaving for Major Junior.

Throw in the fact this guy has won multiple international tournaments and it begs the question: Why didn’t college programs hire this guy?

If USA Hockey can trust this guy with the crown jewels of this nation’s future stars, why couldn’t a college do the same?

The same buddy I talked to made another point that was pretty valid: The problem college hockey has is it has athletic directors that may not understand what it takes to build a program the right way.

Obviously, there are athletic directors that get it but let’s be real here, there are probably some athletic directors that don’t. I know that. You know that and Ringo over here definitely knows that.

Here in Minnesota the high schools more or less have an unwritten rule when it comes to hiring hockey coaches. It isn’t like hiring a basketball or football coach where those coaches have to be teachers. The feeling with hiring a hockey coach in Minnesota is when a hire is made, schools are looking for people that know the game. They played the game and they don’t get caught up with other details.

A high school coach in this region once said schools find it easier to hire a hockey mind because hockey is a complex sport not everyone can coach.

That leads to this final point. If college hockey and its fans want to start putting an end to high-end guys leaving, there needs to be more motivation other than getting a college education.

College educations are important and I thank the Lord I have one but we all remember what it’s like to be 17 and 18 years old. If someone came along and said you could have your dream job for life without having to attend college, we’d all consider it. As an arrogant-ass 17-year-old I told my parents and teachers, “If journalism was like hockey, I wouldn’t waste my time in school. What can I learn in school that I already haven’t learned working at a decently-sized daily newspaper?”

More than a college education needs to be touted. Development needs to be touted. Success stories from college need to be touted.

Showing colleges care about development is a major step in the right direction but when schools let coaches like Rolston slip by, therein lies the problem. Ohio State got it right this summer when it hired goaltending coach Joe Exter away from the NTDP. That was Ohio State’s way of saying it cares about hockey and it wants to do its best to get the premier goaltenders.

People can argue all they want about Major Junior and its evil telenovela father, Hockey Canada, for ruining the game here in the United States by fleecing talent. But in true soap opera form, these kids are going to a place where they feel they can get the best development.

That’s why kids are leaving. And when guys like Rolston don’t get hired, it’s another reason to walk out the door too.

Reservations…

Those wondering when the USHL season starts don’t have to worry much longer as the league released its schedule this afternoon.

Opening night is set for Sept. 30 and as for the Force, they will open on the road on Oct. 1 against Des Moines. The home opener will be Oct. 14 against the Muskegon Lumberjacks at 7:35 p.m.

As was promised earlier, here are a look at some of the top home games (in chronological order) that could be worth checking out this season:

OCT. 14: That of course is the Force’s home opener and for any team that is a big deal. For the Force, however, it signals another era behind the bench in John Marks, who was hired last week replacing Jason Herter, who left to become an assistant at Minnesota-Duluth. The Force have been considered in some minds to be a favorite for the Clark Cup because the team could return 11 players and 12 players with USHL experience altogether.

OCT. 20: Sioux City and North Dakota commit Jordan Schmaltz come to town and last year it was one of the more interesting games to watch. Schmaltz is said to be one of the top USHL pro prospects for the upcoming 2012 NHL Draft. He was a player that was coveted by Major Junior but returned for another season before heading off to North Dakota for the 2012-13 season.

OCT. 29: The Force host Dubuque and it will be a bit of a rematch of last year’s second-round series in which the Fighting Saints knocked out the black and blue. Dubuque will have a different look this year but it will still feature stud forward Zemgus Girgensons (Vermont) who like Schmaltz was recently handed an invitation to the NHL’s Research and Development Camp in August. Another name Dubuque will have is defenseman Michael Matheson, who was the top Quebec prospect last season and balked at Major Junior to play in the USHL before playing college hockey at Boston College.

NOV. 11: Unlike last season, the Force really won’t get a chance to play too many Eastern Conference teams like Youngstown or Indiana. In fact, they don’t play them at home at all but the Force do get Cedar Rapids, which is one of the top teams in league year in and year out. There’s plenty to watch with Cedar Rapids, but the big name could be Yale commit Alex Lyon. Lyon, a goaltender, played last season at Lake of the Woods winning the Frank Brimsek Award for Minnesota’s top senior goaltender. That game could potentially pit him against Force goaltender Zane Gothberg, who won the award in 2010.

NOV. 12: The Force get the Des Moines Buccaneers and it is also a chance for former Blaine teammates, but more importantly, brothers Michael and Jon Brodzinski to play against each other. This all depends on if Michael took an offer to play with the NTDP’s U-17 team, which consists of players like former Force defenseman and Devils Lake product Keaton Thompson. Should this happen, it’ll put the Jon (a forward) against Mike (a defenseman). Whoever wins gets family bragging rights while second place gets a set of steak knives.

NOV. 18: This will be a homecoming of sorts for the Johnson family and former Force defenseman Brandon Carlson. Stars coach Chad Johnson, who still lives in Fargo, will be behind the bench while his nephew, Luke, who is from Grand Forks, will get a chance to be at home for a weekend series. As was noted, it also marks the return of Carlson, who spent bits and pieces of two seasons with the Force before being traded. Carlson, a fan favorite, was traded to the NAHL last February and was ultimately traded during the USHL Entry Draft a few months ago.

DEC. 9: The U-18 NTDP team will come to town and that’s always a chance to see the future stars of American hockey. Team USA, again, has some good ones but a guy to look for is Jacob Trouba. Trouba was also invited to that NHL Research and Devlopment Camp along with a few Team USA teammates. Here’s some more information on those Team USA players invited to the NHL’s August camp.

DEC. 16: Force face Omaha, which brings the return of Jimmy Murray, who was a popular player among his Force teammates before being traded for A.J. Reid at the USHL Entry Draft.

JAN. 16: Force will be facing a Sioux Falls team with a familiar face to those in the area’s hockey scene in Moorhead’s Eric Brenk. Brenk played last season with the Spuds and a few days after the Stampede’s tryout camp was told he made the team. It’ll be interesting to see how Brenk transitions from Minnesota High School hockey to the USHL but we’ll get a chance to see in his first trip back to the area.

MARCH 2: Another player in forward Joe Rehkamp returns to Fargo. Rehkamp like Carlson was a fan favorite and for many reasons. What is also interesting about Rehkamp returning is it gives him a chance to see family. The Force’s billet coordinator, Dorian Nelson, told me how Rehkamp lived with his grandmother while playing for the team.

 

In all, the Force will play 15 Friday games, 11 Saturday games, two Thursday games, one Monday game and one Wednesday game this season. Below is the rest of the schedule. Home games are in BOLD:

 

 

Date

Home

Time

Saturday, October 01, 2011

@

Des Moines

7:05 PM

Friday, October 07, 2011

@

Omaha

7:05 PM

Saturday, October 08, 2011

@

Sioux City

7:00 PM

Friday, October 14, 2011

vs

Muskegon

7:35 PM

Saturday, October 15, 2011

vs

Omaha

7:05 PM

Thursday, October 20, 2011

vs

Sioux City

7:05 PM

Friday, October 21, 2011

@

Omaha

7:05 PM

Saturday, October 22, 2011

@

Sioux Falls

7:05 PM

Friday, October 28, 2011

vs

Green Bay

7:35 PM

Saturday, October 29, 2011

vs

Dubuque

7:05 PM

Friday, November 04, 2011

@

Lincoln

7:05 PM

Saturday, November 05, 2011

@

Lincoln

7:05 PM

Friday, November 11, 2011

vs

Cedar Rapids

7:35 PM

Saturday, November 12, 2011

vs

Des Moines

7:05 PM

Friday, November 18, 2011

vs

Lincoln

7:35 PM

Saturday, November 19, 2011

vs

Lincoln

7:05 PM

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

@

Sioux Falls

7:05 PM

Friday, November 25, 2011

@

Youngstown

7:30 PM

Saturday, November 26, 2011

@

Indiana

7:05 PM

Friday, December 02, 2011

vs

Tri-City

7:35 PM

Saturday, December 03, 2011

vs

Tri-City

7:05 PM

Friday, December 09, 2011

vs

Team USA – 18

7:35 PM

Saturday, December 10, 2011

@

Sioux City

7:00 PM

Friday, December 16, 2011

vs

Omaha

7:35 PM

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

vs

Lincoln

7:05 PM

Friday, December 30, 2011

@

Chicago

7:30 PM

Saturday, December 31, 2011

@

Dubuque

6:05 PM

Friday, January 06, 2012

vs

Sioux City

7:35 PM

Saturday, January 07, 2012

vs

Sioux City

7:05 PM

Friday, January 13, 2012

@

Tri-City

7:05 PM

Saturday, January 14, 2012

@

Tri-City

7:05 PM

Monday, January 16, 2012

vs

Sioux Falls

7:05 PM

Friday, January 20, 2012

@

Lincoln

7:05 PM

Saturday, January 21, 2012

vs

Sioux Falls

7:05 PM

Thursday, January 26, 2012

vs

Sioux City

7:05 PM

Saturday, January 28, 2012

@

Sioux City

7:00 PM

Sunday, January 29, 2012

@

Omaha

3:05 PM

Friday, February 03, 2012

vs

Omaha

7:35 PM

Saturday, February 04, 2012

@

Sioux Falls

7:05 PM

Friday, February 10, 2012

vs

Tri-City

7:35 PM

Saturday, February 11, 2012

vs

Tri-City

7:05 PM

Friday, February 17, 2012

@

Waterloo

7:05 PM

Saturday, February 18, 2012

@

Cedar Rapids

7:05 PM

Friday, February 24, 2012

vs

Omaha

7:35 PM

Saturday, February 25, 2012

@

Waterloo

7:05 PM

Friday, March 02, 2012

vs

Waterloo

7:35 PM

Saturday, March 03, 2012

vs

Waterloo

7:05 PM

Friday, March 09, 2012

@

Des Moines

7:05 PM

Saturday, March 10, 2012

@

Des Moines

7:05 PM

Friday, March 16, 2012

@

Tri-City

7:05 PM

Saturday, March 17, 2012

@

Tri-City

7:05 PM

Sunday, March 18, 2012

@

Omaha

3:05 PM

Friday, March 23, 2012

vs

Des Moines

7:35 PM

Saturday, March 24, 2012

vs

Des Moines

7:05 PM

Friday, March 30, 2012

@

Sioux Falls

7:05 PM

Saturday, March 31, 2012

@

Sioux City

7:00 PM

Friday, April 06, 2012

vs

Sioux Falls

7:35 PM

Saturday, April 07, 2012

vs

Sioux Falls

7:05 PM

Friday, April 13, 2012

@

Lincoln

7:05 PM

Saturday, April 14, 2012

vs

Lincoln

7:05 PM

Light Up…

The NHL for a consecutive season is hosting a Research, Development and Orientation Camp, which takes a look at the players considered to be the best draft prospect for the upcoming draft.

Thirty-six players will be at the mid-August camp in Etobicoke, Ont. and of that last seven of those players will be playing in the USHL this season. The biggest names on that list are Sioux Falls defenseman and North Dakota commit Jordan Schmaltz and Vermont commit and Dubuque forward Zemgus Girgensons.

Below is a list of the players that were invited along with their stats from last season and some additional information:

-Cameron Darcy, forward,  National Team Development Program: The 6-foot, 181-pound Darcy spent last season with the U-17 team in the NTDP fold. He scored nine goals and four assists in 37 games last season. He’s committed to Northeastern and is expected to attend the school in 2012 as he’ll spend this season with the U-18 season where he’ll get a chance to experience something different from last season. Most U-17 players play in the USHL while the U-18 members splits times between league play, college exhibitions and international tournaments.

-Zemgus Girgensons, forward, Dubuque Fighting Saints: Girgensons was a major part of Dubuque’s Clark Cup title run in the team’s first season. At times he was partnered with Northeastern duo Vinny Saponari and John Gaudreau and the trio surely did damage for the Fighting Saints. Listed at 6-1, 182 pounds, Girgensons spent most of his time at center last season creating chances for Saponari and Gaudreau. He scored 49 points (21 goals, 28 assists) in just 51 games. NHL Central Scouting’s Jack Barzee said in April that Girgensons was one of three USHL-based players to look out for in this year’s draft. He’ll be one of those guys the Fighting Saints will look to in their title defense this season.

-Nick Kerdiles, forward, NTDP: There’s a lot of people that like Kerdiles and the evidence really speaks for itself. He had 20 points (12 goals, 8 assists) in 32 games for the U-17 team last season and those numbers will more than likely be expected to improve. At 6-1, 183 pounds he has a good frame and is another one of these California products that’s starting to make waves. Kerdiles is also a Wisconsin commit and one of the top recruits they have coming into Madison.

-Michael Matheson, defenseman, Dubuque: Considered by many to be one of the top prospects from Quebec, if not the No. 1 in some minds, Matheson being on this list really isn’t a surprise. He spent last season playing Triple A Midget in Quebec where he had a monster season scoring 14 goals and 24 assists for 38 points in 35 games for the Lac Saint-Louis Lions. The season before he was named the league’s rookie of the year with 11 points in 30 games. Matheson tore it up even more at the Telus Cup with 8 points in seven games had another stellar effort for the Canadian U-17 team scoring 8 points in six games. Matheson’s profile made him the subject of discussion among many to see if he’d spent next season in The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League or the USHL. The Boston College commit plans to spend one year in Dubuque before heading to college. With Girgensons up front and Maine commit Matt Morris in net, Dubuque was already looking to be solid. Adding Matheson make them that more dangerous.

-Collin Olson, goaltender, NTDP: The Apple Valley, Minn. native comes in that physical mold of recent NTDP goaltender John Gibson in the fact that he has size. He’s already 6-3 and 190 pounds giving him nice size in net. He spent last season with the U-17 team where he went 10-8-1 with a 2.84 GAA and a .903 save percentage. Olson had three shutouts and he was part of the U-17′s two-goalie tandem it used last season to make the USHL playoffs. Olson is an Ohio State commit and once he arrives on campus he’ll be working with former coach Joe Exter who left the NTDP recently to take a job with the Buckeye hockey program.

-Jordan Schmaltz, defenseman, Sioux City Musketeers: There were very few players let alone defenseman that could control a game like the offensive-minded Schmaltz, who is 6-2 and a 175 pounds. He scored 44 points (13 goals, 31 assists) in 59 games last season. He was the Musketeers’ third-leading scorer but he did more than that. He had a stretch where he recorded points in 12 of his last 13 games and had a 10-game point streak to end the season helping the Musketeers get into the USHL playoffs last season. Like Girgensons he was described by Barzee as one of the three USHL-based players to look out for this season. The other being Fargo Force defenseman and Nebraska-Omaha commit Brian Cooper. Schmaltz this summer was caught in a bit of a tug of war between Major Junior and the USHL/college before deciding to return to Sioux City and he’ll then move onto North Dakota.

-Jacob Trouba, defenseman, NTDP: He stands at 6-1 and a 183 pounds and spent last season with the NTDP’s U-17 team where he scored 7 points (3 goals, 4 assists) in 31 games last season. The Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy did a feature on Trouba stating that he’s being considered as one of the top defenseman in the upcoming draft. So far he has not committed to a college, according to Chris Heisenberg’s recruiting list but something says that could change as the season goes along.

Charlie…

Got a chance to speak with Jim Olander in the Sioux Falls Stampede front office who said that goaltender Charlie Lindgren is set to come to the team’s camp.

Why is this a big deal? Well because for those not in the know, Lindgren is a goaltender who spent last season at Lakeville North leading the team to a state tournament appearance where he emerged as a favorite for the upcoming season’s Frank Brimsek Award, which goes to the top senior goaltender in Minnesota. It is believed that Lindgren along with Moorhead goaltender Michael Bitzer stand out as the frontunners.

Winners of that award include Fargo Force goaltender and North Dakota commit Zane Gothberg, who won the award when he was at Thief River Falls during the 2009-10 season.

Most times when a player is heading to a team’s developmental camp in the USHL that usually means that kid is there to compete for a chance at making the team. But as has been the case, players can change their mind and come back for their senior season.

Or as the Stampede witnessed last season with Minnesota’s Kyle Rau, a player can start the season in the USHL, return to high school and then complete the season in the USHL without penalty.

That’s what Rau did last year as he started with the Stampede before returning to Eden Prairie where he won a state title and Mr. Hockey, the award for Minnesota’s best high school player. He returned to Stampede helping them make the playoffs and was arguably the team’s best player during the playoff run.

As for Lindgren, here’s why he could help the Stampede. He was one of the reason and in some cases, the reason, North had such a solid year making the state tournament. Following a 5-0 loss to Rau’s Eden Prairie, Lindgren stormed back making 80 saves in two games in the consolation round helping North win the consolation championship.

That included a 38-save performance against Moorhead in the opening round of the consolation tournament. The 6-1, 165-pound Lindgren finished 13-10-1 with a 2.81 GAA and a .915 save percentage.

Sioux Falls, as of late, had a bit of success with Minnesota kids. Most of its run last year was sparked by Minnesotans such as Christian Isackson and the Reilly Twins, Ryan and Connor along with Rau.

The Stampede were expected to get Mario Lucia this season until his rights were traded to Des Moines and he eventually joined the Reillys in Penticton where they’ll be spending this season with the team in the BCHL.

For Boston…

Whether it is this coming season or the one after, it could appear that Boston College wouldn’t be a bad destination for Force defenseman Garrett Haar.

By now most know that Haar, who was drafted by the Washington Capitals a few weeks ago, impressed management so much at the development camp that general manager George McPhee said that he wanted Haar out of the USHL and in college this coming season.

McPhee put in a phone call to BC coach Jerry York, who coached McPhee, the 1982 Hobey Baker Award winner, in college at Bowling Green State. Haar was committed to Northeastern and decommitted a day after he was drafted by the Capitals after coach Greg Cronin left the program to be an assistant with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

When Haar decommitted he had a list of schools – North Dakota, Minnesota, Minnesota-Duluth, Denver and Boston University – where he’d like to play college hockey. He hasn’t received any offers from those schools but he has received offers from UMass-Lowell and Western Michigan. Haar said that he declined offers from both schools.

Not too long ago there was a blog post regarding how Haar would fit in at each school on his list and the prospects were challenging to say the least. In regards to BC, however, the chances of Haar getting time there would pretty decent.

Boston College returns all seven of its defensemen for next season including three incoming players, according to Chris Heisenberg’s recruiting list. Two of those defensemen are seniors and one of them, Brian Dumolin, will be a junior next year. Dumolin, a Carolina Hurricanes draft pick among other things, is one of the hottest prospects in college hockey and there’s always a chance he could leave the program early.

Assuming he does leave, that would free up three spots for the 2012-13 season and one of those could be snagged by Haar. Of course he’d have to fight for playing time but that’s bound to happen anywhere.

21st Century Life…

Newly-minted Force head coach John Marks brought up a very interesting point when we sat down for 10 minutes following the press conference ushering him in as the team’s new head coach.

Marks, who coached last season for Winkler in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, said one of the things that made it easier to get out of his contract with Winkler was the clause that as long as he was moving up he could get out of his deal and sign with the Force.

Including this clause is something quite a few junior teams are starting to do these days. It gives them a chance to retain coaches so they don’t jump ship to other teams in the United States Hockey League.

Scheels Arena general manager Jon Kram said due to privacy issues he couldn’t discuss specific details of Marks’ contract and if he had a similar clause in his agreement. All he could say was Marks’ deal was a multi-year agreement.

Assuming Marks does have that kind of agreement in his contract, it would be a very smart move by the Force to do that.

Fans, especially the Force fans, might get frustrated by the fact that every time an off-season rolls around it means having to find a new head coach but that’s the nature of the business and if a coach can move up to a higher level, they are going to do that.

But they at least won’t have the worry of watching a coach jump ship to another USHL team and in some cases, Major Junior in Canada.

Watching coaches leave is a common occurrence in junior hockey whether it be the USHL or Major Junior.

Yet these kind of clauses – along with winning – is what might make a coach stay.

Song No. 4…

Former North Dakota assistant John Marks was named today the new head coach of the Fargo Force following a press conference at Scheels Arena.

Marks will replace Jason Herter, who left the Force to become an assistant at defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth. Should Marks be hired he will be the team’s fourth head coach in its four-year existence. He’ll also continue the string of Force coaches with ties to the University of North Dakota.

The charismatic Marks met with the media in the Scheels Arena entryway where he talked for about 20 minutes ranging from issues such as providing coaching stability to the Force to competing next season.

“My wife and I put our house up for sale in Moorhead and it sold three weeks later,” Marks said. “We have an apartment here in Fargo…it’s been a big year. A big month. And this is another example of how it’s been for us this year.”

Marks, 63, is a native of Hamiota, Man., who spent nine seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks before getting into coaching. He was an assistant coach with former Force coach and current Nebraska-Omaha coach Dean Blais at UND under Gino Gasparini.

Marks is also a UND alum.

Marks has 30 years of coaching experience and 25 as a head coach with most of them coming in the ECHL where he became the first coach to win a league title with two different franchises.

He spent last season as the head coach of the Winkler Flyers of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. The Flyers are owned by former UND goaltender Ed Belfour.

Area hockey fans might also be familiar with Marks because of his son, Logan, who was an all-state selection at goaltender for Moorhead.

Marks was one of three front runners that was considered for the job. The others being Force assistant Byron Pool, who was the team’s interim head coach. Pool did apply for the job and will be in Fargo as an assistant this coming season.

The other name that was rumored for the job was Chad Johnson, the Lincolns Stars head coach and a former Force assistant. Johnson had been rumored to be the next Force head coach since April when the Force’s season ended in the second round against eventual Clark Cup champions, the Dubuque Fighting Saints.

As was earlier stated, Marks will be the fourth head coach with ties to the Sioux. Blais, of course, was an assistant and later head coach for the team. Steve Johnson, who left to become an assistant at St. Cloud, played at UND winning a national championship while Herter was one of the Sioux’s many NHL first-round draft picks in its illustrious history.

Fly Like An Eagle…

It looks like Garrett Haar could end up in Boston after all but it could be with Boston College and it could happen this year.

Washington Capitals beat writer Katie Carrera wrote that Haar, a Force defenseman, was the surprise of development camp it and it led to Capitals general manager George McPhee making a few phone calls to his old coach Jerry York to get Haar a full ride to Boston College for the upcoming 2011-12 season.

Haar, who was at Reagan airport, said Saturday by cell phone that McPhee’s phone call to York was quick and expected.

“I was just shocked but I am extremely happy too,” Haar said. “Not everyone has the chance to get that opportunity and I am very pleased with everything that happened.”

McPhee, who won the Hobey Baker award in 1982, played for York at Bowling Green State University. So that explains that connection.

Haar was deemed as the surprise of the camp because he came in and had four points (all assists) in three games at the development camp. McPhee said Haar, who was selected 207th overall in the NHL Draft a few weeks ago, really played well at camp because of the way he competed, defended and the fact that he looked strong on his skates.

Haar said he spoke with McPhee after training camp where the Caps GM told him that he wants him playing college hockey next year and does not want him to return to the USHL next season.

“I can’t really say right now, I don’t really know,” said Haar about his future. “I mean I have to get the offer from BC and I’ve only heard from George McPhee so far. My parents and I haven’t talked about it. I’ll continue to go through the week and talk to some people. I have another tough decision to make and I’ve been getting accustomed to making those.”

Boy, has he.

Haar opened the summer by leading the exodus of players to decommit from Northeastern after head coach Greg Cronin decided to step down to take an assistant coaching position with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Haar was quickly offered scholarships by Western Michigan and UMass-Lowell, which he said were two offers he “respectfully declined.”

Haar stated after his decommitment he wanted to play at a powerhouse school listing Boston University, North Dakota, Minnesota, Minnesota-Duluth and Denver as his top choices.

That same week Haar was back at his California home playing “Call of Duty” with his younger brother when he drafted by the Capitals.

Haar, at that time, said he was going to spend the 2011-12 season with the Force where he’d be one of four returning defenseman the Force would have to open the season.

And one can argue that in typical Force fashion, here’s another hiccup in the off-season that started with coach Jason Herter leaving to become an assistant at defending champion Minnesota-Duluth.

Scheels Arena general manager Jon Kram said Herter’s replacement would be hired next Friday and that person’s first task could be trying to convince Haar to stay in town for one more year.

Haar admitted while he was waiting for a connecting flight to St. Louis that things are still up in the air with Boston College because they have to see if the money would be available for him to be an Eagle next season.

If the money is not there, then he’ll be back with the Force.

“Honestly, all of this is unexpected,” Haar said. “There were no tricks up my sleeve and this is how the cards have fallen. I am fortunate enough to end up in this position and I couldn’t be happier.”