College Hockey fighting battle against Canadian Major Junior

UMass-Amherst alum Jonathan Quick won the Con Smythe Trophy in 2012 as his Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup. - Harry How

This Saturday's QMJHL Draft brought back to the forefront a key issue facing college hockey. College hockey programs and coaches vigorously try to protect against players choosing Canadian major junior over the NCAA route.

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League held its draft Saturday in Chicoutimi, Quebec. There were a number of Americans selected in the draft, many of whom will play college. However, there were some players drafted who will inevitably reject the education they would receive while playing college hockey for the major junior route.

Boston University recruit Cam Askew was the first American selected in the QMJHL Draft. The South Boston native was selected 11th overall by Drummondville. It is being reported that he will skip out on his commitment to the Terriers to lace them up in Drummondville.

College hockey programs and its coaches have long fought the battle to keep players away from major junior. Rensselaer coach Seth Appert and Quinnipiac assistant coach Bill Riga took to twitter to defend college hockey.

There continues to be the misguided opinion by many in Canada that major junior is the best route to the NHL, but the sentiment is changing. College hockey has made a ton of inroads in the past decade or so. As Riga indicated, only two New England born players who played in the QMJHL are currently playing in the NHL. Charlie Coyle played at Boston University before heading to major junior and Keith Yandle was committed to UNH before he couldn't pass the NCAA clearinghouse.

The last three winners of the Con Smythe Trophy, given to the Stanley Cup Finals MVP, have been college hockey alums. Former North Dakota star Jonathan Toews won the award when his Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010. Former Vermont goaltender Tim Thomas won it a year later with the Boston Bruins and former UMass-Amherst netminder Jonathan Quick took home the trophy last June with the Los Angeles Kings.

Appert is referencing the fact that players who chose the NCAA route can play college hockey while getting a terrific education and learning many life skills that one learns in college. The CHL reportedly offers educational packages to players who don't make it to the next level, but the number of major junior players who choose to do that are minimal.

Jeff Cox covers hockey for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.

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