Friday, April 19, 2013

Open letter to Quentin Shore

Dear Quentin,

Like many Portland Winterhawks fans, my ears perked up when rumors came out this winter that you were thinking about joining the teamDean Millard, of The Pipeline Show stated that "that takes stones" - and he's right.

Hockey is like the rest of life, in which its best to keep your options open.  Coming into this year, I'm sure the DU option looked really good, with all the family ties to the school, as well as Pioneer hockey being a successful program, with its most recent championships in 2004 & 2005.  Guys like Matt Carle & Paul Stastny were on that team, demonstrating that you can achieve your NHL dreams via this route.

For most players in your position, coach George Gwozdecky & his successful track record would be a great selling point.  Playing with your brother Nick probably sounded pretty good as well.  I wonder if next season will feel different, with Gwozdecky fired and Nick Shore going pro.

I'm sure one of the potential draws to Portland was to play with Seth Jones, and he very well may be headed your way next year anyway.

Conventional wisdom shows that the advantages of major junior are more games (a pro-style schedule) as well as a NHL style playoff format.  If we look as your friend Seth Jones, for example, he played more regular season games this year than in the two years in the USNDP combined.  Throw in the WJCtwo Top Prospect Games, he's got sigifinantly more ice time than he would have at UND.  Then there's the playoffs.

William Wrenn once faced the same decision you have.  He appears to have struggled for DU, before signing with Portland.  Wrenn went on to play more WHL playoff games than NCAA regular season games.  Of course, he had the luxury of knowing that an NHL team was invested in him, but one has to think that playoff experience really furthered his development - taking a team to a game 7 in the league final while wearing the "C" - and his pro career seems to be on track in year one.

If you decide to come over to the dark side, and sign with Portland, it would be a significant career risk.  Even for a forward of your caliber, who would be top 6 on almost any NCAA / CHL team, ice time will be tough to earn.   The 'Hawks are bringing back 5 of their top 6 forwards next season.  There should be plenty of NHL scouts following the team, with guys like Keegan Iverson, Dominic Turgeon in their draft years, and Paul Bittner being drafted the year after.  However, that further illustrates the competition for ice time.  Players like yourself are often motivated by the chance to shine on a team that looks to remain a contender, even after being favored to do serious damage in the playoffs for the 3rd straight year.

That NCAA education will no doubt prove valuable later in life, and I wouldn't walk away from it without a lot of consideration. There are many players who capitalize on the WHL scholarship program if pro hockey isn't in the cards - so leaving Denver isn't necessarily the end of hockey paying for school.  You can play CIS hockey while going to school in Canada, and sometimes guys get noticed by NHL teams that way.

My advice to you is to reach out to as many players as you can who have had to make this choice, especially Seth Jones & William Wrenn, as they are familiar with both sides of the coin.  If you make it up here to Portland, let me know - I'd love to show you around town.

Chad Balcom

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