Friday, March 26, 2010

UAA Rescinds Bengtson's Scholarship Offer

Word comes to me today that head coach Dave Shyiak has rescinded the verbal scholarship offer to Gustav Bengtson.  This unfortunate news points out once again the foibles and difficulties of recruiting players at younger ages.  Surely Dave Shyiak and his staff saw promising things from a 17 year old player to offer him the scholarship and then keep it in their vest for three years.  

But now a young man is left without much time to try to find an opportunity to pursue his dream of playing NCAA hockey?  For nearly three years no college hockey recruiter would have looked at or spoken with Gustav.  He was coming to UAA right?  That was "on the books" eh?

I can't help but say this to all college hockey coaches and recruiters.  If you're going to offer a schollie to a 17 year old, you damn well better be prepared to live up to your verbal commitment.  It is unfair in the extreme to keep a kid off the recruiting table and then turn him loose at the last moment. 

Originally committed to join the team in 2009, Gustav was asked to push that back for one more year.  I can't help but think that was the proper time to release him.  A year and 5 months certainly would have been a more fair window for him to find another school versus the 5 months he now has.

For any recruits out there; I'd tell you that if the school recruiting you hasn't sent you an LOI to sign then perhaps they're not really serious about wanting you.  This isn't the first time some school has rescinded it's verbal arrangement and it won't be the last.  If you want to know your future for sure; make the school step up and put it in writing.  Especially if it going to be more than a year before you attend school.

Bengtson was tendered the verbal offer in 2007 while playing major midget hockey in Utah with the Northwest Regulators as a 17 year old.  His coach there said this at the time:
“What sticks out for the scouts when they watch him are his tremendous skills”, stated Gronborg. “Gustav can be a dynamic player with his skating and stick handling at a very high speed."
"Mixed with being a very ‘coach-able’ athlete you can consider him a ‘dream player’ for our staff. His commitment also shows in his approach to school where he is an honor student”

“Gustav was a pretty accomplished player when he came over to the US. However I would like to commend his work ethic on and off the ice especially in areas such as his defensive play, his play in traffic, and keeping a consistent high level of play, which he needs to continue to improve in order to make the next step. There is always a transition period for an European player to come over to play North American hockey and I think that Gustav has handled it great”
Gustav began his junior career in the USHL but a lack of playing time even though he showed great potential, the deep lineup and lack of playing forced a move to Texas in the NAHL where he gelled nicely and contributed 9 goals and 13 assists in 37 games.  Texas suspended operations the next season and Gustav found himself first in Topeka and then with the Kenai River Brown Bears.  

I often commented here that his junior career was stunted by provincially minded junior coaches.  If you were coaching in Cedar Rapids wouldn't you give ice time to the kid whose Mom and Dad were in the stands?  Damn right you would.  When given the proper opportunity (as he was in Texas) he showed great promise and development.  His coach there said;
“He’s really added an offensive spark that we were lacking early on in the season,”
Perhaps frustrated by his North American junior experiences Gustav returned home to Sweden this past season to bulk up and polish his game before heading to UAA this coming fall (a year later than originally agreed to).  He currently leads his team in scoring.  With the Seawolves now out of the mix, there is a quality Swedish player looking for an opportunity to play college hockey.  In my estimation, someone will be lucky to latch onto Gustav.  He is an excellent student having graduated from high school in Texas with a 3.75 GPA.

At this moment, I'm not proud of the program I support.  For a program that already faces difficulties in recruiting and building success due to it's geography, this is a black mark it didn't need.


matthew said...

yeah, it's always unfortunate to see a verbal reneged. it'll be interesting to see where (if?) he lands and how he does there.

Anonymous said...

I watched Gustav play junior hockey, and I never felt he was division I material. Makes me think of the scouting reports on Naslund. They didn't exactly get it "right", did they?

Are the UAA coaches putting too much weight on what a players junior coach has to say about them, and not watching the films themselves? If so, they need to do their OWN homework on recruits.

I have been a fan for more than 20 years, and this is the first time I can remember UAA pulling an offer. Other teams do it all the time, I can't say that I'd call it a black mark. If UAA had a history of doing this (over recruiting like UND), that would be different, but they don't.

Donald Dunlop said...

This is something I've been highly critical of other programs for doing. So, I could not in good conscience be any less critical of my program.

Yes, it isn't something that the UAA program has done in my memory either. But it is what it is. Here's a young man that now has 5 months to achieve something he thought he had achieved nearly three years ago.

And of course you make a valid point ... that for all we know he isn't D1 material. I don't know for sure either way. But that's something that is in a sense on the periphery of the bigger point.

Someone in the UAA program decided he was. Whether that was a misjudgment or from not doing their homework is essentially moot.

Perhaps his junior career would have turned out different had he been uncommitted versus committed. Junior coaches get judged by how many players they move forward.

Gustav had a D1 spot and nobody in the stands/in the coach's ear. Why is a junior coach going to play him if there are other close or equal players on the squad? Their parents are on that junior coaches back to get their kid playing time so he can get a schollie too.

One could speculate that the early commit wasn't good for Gustav because it caused him to not play as hard. Only he knows that.

Speculation aside, it's a situation that really only has one victim. Gustav. And therein lies the shame. He wasn't looked at, evaluated or approached by any other program for the last 3 years.

Hockey players (and young adults in general) hold their futures in their own hands. But when something like this happens it doesn't make it easy for them.

I hope he does catch on somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Happens a lot. A kid shows a bit of promise in Midgets and verbally commits to a program, but hits Jrs and never develops into a college level player. Thats why you can't sign a LOI when you are 16-17. And even if he did sign a LOI it is only good for a year before you have to sign a new one if you get pushed back a year. THis is not a black mark on this staff. Everyone whines about them not recruiting enough talent. This player isn't talented enough to play at this level so why bring him and waste money? They took a shot and it didn't work out so they moved on. And it didn't just happen like yesterday, it happened when the kid couldn't cut it in the NAHL and moved back home to play in a second tier Jr program in Sweden.

Donald Dunlop said...

Then they should have released him last year. Do you think Naslund is "enough talent"? They can bring him in at the last moment last year while pushing Bengtson back and I'm not supposed to wonder if a kid that CAN skate would have been better?

Sight unseen I'd take Bengtson over Naslund now that I know how Daniel skates. Nothing against the kid but he is a big project. Maybe Bengtson would have been a project of sorts too. I dunno. But they did recruit him first didn't they?

It's unfair to the guy. And it is a black mark in my opinion.

dead_rabbit said...

WOW! I actually agree with you. Well, mostly. I disagree on your take of the "Cedar Rapids" coach, no matter how provincial the coach may be, he doesn't care whose parents are sitting in the stands.

Anonymous said...

Disagree with your statement " He wasn't looked at, evaluated or approached by any other program for the last 3 years".

You have NO way of knowing that. As much as it stinks, coaches also do that quite a lot. Brian Canady is a prime example.

Anonymous said...

They did let him go last year that's why he wasn't here this season. He wasn't pushed back a year like you think. The kid did not pan out as a recruit plain and simple. It wasn't Jr coaches not playing him because of some whiney parents or something like that, it was because he was not skilled enough. And as for Naslund he progressed a lot in his skating this season and his stick handling, vision, play making, and poise with the puck is second to few on the current team and league. That kid is going to be a beast in his 4 years here!

Suze said...

Donald, you and I have discussed Bengston numerous times. We have a fundamental disagreement about his hockey career. I have always maintained that if he was good enough, he would have cracked the line up on any team he played on.

He had numerous chances, on numerous teams, and always came up short. You can't blame his lack of success on every one of these coaches. At some point a player has to be held accountable.

I wish him well and hope he can continue to play in Sweden. There are always DIII teams as well, if he is smart enough to get an academic scholly.

woof said...

Seawolves comrades:

I donated a mere $10 to this blog (my hubbie's name is on our Paypal account), but he agreed that this blog rocks and was happy to help support it. :o)

And now I'm challenging other wolves fans to step up and be the second person to donate. C'mon, $10? $5? $1?

If Donald runs into me at a future UAA game, he'll probably kill me for making this plea.. but hey - I just appreciate all that he does during hockey season to keep this UAA Fan Blog up and running.

Please -- someone be the second person to donate?

And Donald, I hope that you leave the donater-thingie up all summer in case some of the others who appreciate all you do are out of town.

C'mon guys, who will join me so I'm not the only one on there? :o(

Thanks everyone!

Donald, don't delete my msg, please?

Suze said...

I donated as well. Maybe you could change your expiration date on donations, Donald? Honestly, I didn't even notice this until someone asked about it in the comments section.

Thanks for all you do Donald. Sometimes we take you for granted, but do know your efforts are appreciated.

Donald Dunlop said...

He was not let go last year. He was let go just days ago.

The expiration date is March 22, 2011. The widget just doesn't show that. I created it on the 23rd and a year is the longest "event" you can create.

Thnaks to all who have donated (one particularly generous donation doesn't show up in the total).

hkestes said...

I watched Gustav play about 2/3 of a season with the Texas Tornado in the NAHL and based on what I have seen in the league over the years he definitely D1 material. Gustav coudl skate with anyone in the league, handled the puck well and played good positional hockey.

There are 8 other players off that team that I know of playing D1, one in Canada, and one playing AHL

Niagara – Sam Goodwin
Robert Morris – Andrew Blazek
Air Force – John Kruse
Western Michigam – Matt Tennyson
American International – Robbie Blanchette
Western Michigan – Ben Miller
Army – Jon Bobb
Colorado College – Andrew Hamburg
Dalhousie - Ben Van Lare
Texas Stars - Sergi Korostin

Gustav came in a finished 6th on the team in scoring despite only playing 37 games out of a 58 game season.

I would have to agree with Donald that it was rather crappy on the coaches part.

UAAalumni09 said...

In other more funny news, UA_ lost to BC, leaving UAA as the only Alaska school to win a NCAA tournament game.

Also this year SCSU got their first win at the NCAA's, which surprises me since UAA did that almost two decades ago.

Donald Dunlop said...

Thank you for comment. I think you've made an excellent case that Gustav is D1 material. My post here is in part intended as an announcement of his availability to D1 teams that are looking for a now mature player that could possibly come into their program and contribute right away.

It is my hope that happens for him. I also hope that behind the scenes the UAA staff puts his name out there to anyone they think might be looking for a player.

UAAalumni09 said...

UND and DU knocked out in the first round, which were major disappointments even for me as I only cheer for them since they are in the WCHA. SCSU or WIS will now represent the only WCHA team in the Frozen Four.

Anonymous said...

Just face it. The kid was an ok talent in Midgets but hasn't developed into a D1 caliber player. A good player is gonna stand out on a Jr team and he never did that. Couldn't hack it in the NAHL (probably the weakest of the Jr A programs) and had to go home to a second level Jr program in his home country. The UAA coaching has done nothing wrong in this situation. I would bet that after suitcasing around the NAHL for a bit he was no longer in the plans and they moved on. This is exactly why commitments, even LOIs, are on a year by year basis.

Zzz said...

Coaches had to make the decision to let Bengtson go or bring him in and "Selby" him. At least Selby got an education to go with the disruption of his hockey career...

Anonymous said...

I see the coach is waiting to donate until AFTER the much awaited review of the coaching staff...

Anonymous said...

Why would that matter? I bet Coach doesn't read this blog. Not once!

Donald Dunlop said...

Anon@11:18 ...
I would tend to agree. Any coach that paid any attention to what people on the internet are saying is making a mistake. He's got more important things to do than spend a minute looking at this.

Anonymous said...

UAA currently recruiting BCHL goalie, so I guess Bryce not returning?

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone expected Bryce to come back next season. He had issues with his classwork, breaking team rules, etc.

It's a shame, as I don't think we ever saw his true potential. With his numbers he MIGHT get picked up by the Aces, but I can't see him cracking anything other than the ECHL at this point.

What we did see from Bryce was pretty disappointing. Our goalies were the weakest part of the team, and it might be better to just start fresh and hope we get a stud(or two) coming in next season.

Anonymous said...

Gunderson already in fold, I guess there is room for one Gunderson the projected starter then, if Christianson not coming back?

Donald Dunlop said...

If as it looks, we start the season with two freshman goalies and Sidor, then I'd guess the #1 job will be up for grabs.

Anonymous said...

I havnt heard a word about 49 not coming back . Everyone can have a tough year but it did look like he lost his confidence last year especially after xmas

Eric Tuott said...

Don, the recruiting game is a two way street. There are lots of chances you take when you sign a player 3 years down the road, the same way a player is taking a chance by signing with a school 3 years down the road. Until that offer is more then just a verbal committment, there's no telling if that player is going to show up. Even then, a guy may not show up in the fall if greener pastures appear (major junior, NHL offers).

Maybe the guy is a D1 talent, but the UAA coaching staff decided that he wasn't going to fit in here. Better to be let loose and walk on somewhere that showed interest (believe me, if he was good, recruiters were winking at him and telling him that if it didn't work out at UAA, give them a call) and have four good years rather then practice all year and get let loose after starting school, making friends, and realizing you have to sit out a year when you transfer.

For us to be competitive at the WCHA level, we have to take risks on players 2 and 3 years out. That's just the way the college game has progressed. We can't demand that our coaches do that, and then be upset when they decide that one of their recruits isn't going to cut it and pull their scholarship offer.

As far as your take that this is a black mark, I disagree. And this is nothing compared to the recruiting black hole that Talafous left us in after gassing 40+ players in 4 years and burning bridges all over the USHL and Canada.

Donald Dunlop said...

I agree with and am aware of everything you point out about recruiting. And yes, this one kerfuffle doesn't begin to compare to the shenanigans and outright "gassing" (as you say) that occurred under Talafous.

But I am aware that in this particular instance, this was a blindside hit to Bengtson. One might argue that prospects need to be aware that these things can happen (because they do happen), but can we expect Euro-based families and or 18 and 19 year olds to be that familiar with such things in the US D1 recruiting culture?

I think not. Believe me, I'm not about painting a negative picture of the staff. I recognize they're human. And in this particular case I believe they've done an injustice.

I have been vocal and critical of other programs when these things have happened. It would have been hypocritical of me to not address it.

I didn't do this post impulsively. I considered that had I not mentioned it that nobody in the hockey world would have noticed. Then there is certainly no black mark. But I decided that it was in Bengtson's best interest that I make it known he is available. And in doing that I couldn't possibly ignore something for which I've criticized others.

As always, it's good to have you comment and offer your perspective as a former player.

Suze said...

Great to see your input here Eric! You are so right about Talafous. I don't think UAA has completely recovered ... and Jonnie didn't help much either.

But Shyiak is on the right path, and he is a good HOCKEY guy.

Anonymous said...

I would have to think Christianson not coming back if they are recruiting BC goalie. Scholarship $$ will need to be spent to recruit a good goalie...anybody know if Gunderson on a full ride?

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is 49 can play but has to be able to give the Coaches what they want on and off the ice. This team is completly rebuilding when there should have been 10 plus Seniors this year. To go at it with freshman Goalies would be suicide for many different reasons. UAA is going to need as much experience as possible at every position next year. I dont think 49 is leaving because he has something to prove to the program, the Coaches and most importantly himself. Donalds been good about not ripping around gossip lets keep it that way for the people who do care about the program.

Suze said...

Anon said "To go at it with freshman Goalies would be suicide for many different reasons".

I disagree. Look at what freshmen goalies did in the WCHA last season. Genoe for Tech, Howe for CC, Dell for UND, and Lee for SCSU.

Naumenko had an amazing freshman year for us. Lawson's best season was his freshman season.

Having upperclassmen as goalies is nice, but it certainly didn't translate to success this past season. UAA will be just fine with two freshmen goalies, and I still think Sidor is capable as well.

Suze said...

Also, where do you get "10 plus seniors"? There were seven juniors on this years roster. ???

Anonymous said...

Hes playing in a junior B league in sweden, hes not even in the J20 league where, nils and naslund played. Of course the coaches are going to take the scholarship away. The ultimate goal is to win, and they didnt think he was part of the formula. Especially when they can find someone else playing at a higher level of junior. Yea, it might be a crappy deal for him, but he should have seen it coming, some sort of feeling.

As for the people dogging Naslund. Yes, he may not be the greatest skater, but he has come a long way since the beginning of the season. And his skills with the puck are amazing. He will be better every season he is here

Anonymous said...

Bengtson has not been playing junior hockey at all. He has been playing senior hockey

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