Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Getting the message across via media



Interesting words being channeled through the media in recent weeks.

RILEY NASH


Bolting college early for fat pro paychecks is the preferred option for many top draft picks.

It's also one that Nash wants to leave hanging for now.

"It's a tough answer," Nash said. "I'm not going to go just when they (the Oilers) ask me to go. I don't feel I need to go and bounce around in the minors for a few years. Cornell is a nice place to be."


KEVIN PRENDERGAST

"Was I surprised he didn't make it? Not really," said Prendergast. "He was a longshot. They've got (John) Tavares and (Zach) Boychuk as their top two guys, and could move (Angelo) Esposito. Riley can't play the wing.

"Riley had a good second day of camp, but was ordinary in the other ones and you can't have that at a short camp. Not playing enough games at Cornell hurts him."

It's no secret the Oilers feel Nash isn't progressing at Cornell. They don't feel that school plays enough games (Nash has played in only eight so far this season), but even if Nash were to leave after his sophomore season, putting him in the American Hockey League for a short time for a trial-run might not work, either. He's pretty slight.


KEVIN PRENDERGAST - ONE MONTH AGO

The Oilers' slippery situation

Different NHL teams have varying opinions on NCAA hockey, but it's safe to say that all prefer one aspect of the Canadian junior leagues -- the amount of games they play.

In the NCAA, teams generally play in the neighborhood of 35-40 games, though Ivy League schools can end up playing as few as 31. The three major Canadian junior leagues play 68-72 games in the regular season, plus a more expansive playoff system.

That's why the Oilers say they are essentially making the best of a not-so-ideal situation.

"Given the amount of games that Cornell plays, and there's not a lot of high-end games on the weekend, there has to be consistency," said Kevin Prendergast, Edmonton's assistant general manager. "It's a mental thing. He's got to be the best he can be every week. He's got tremendous hockey sense -- it's one of the reasons we drafted him. But there are things that go with that, and we've had a long talk with him about that."

Such as the aforementioned consistency and physical development, which the team has emphasized.

But Prendergast said the issue of where Nash is playing isn't something he harps on. In fact, Big Red coach Mike Schafer said that members of the Oilers organization he's talked to are "ecstatic" with Nash's development.

"You know, it's his decision," said Prendergast, who added he's "happy" with Nash's progress. "We'll back him up whatever he decides to do. ... We're not going to interfere with education. If that's the route he wants to go, we're prepared to wait. But if he decides to stay at Cornell, we're going to do everything we can to make him a better hockey player while he's there."


It will be interesting how this plays out. While going the education route is admirable, these are key years in his development stage. I can see the Oilers position.

Your thoughts?

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