Northeastern's Madigan takes stance, rejects Szmatula's bid to be released from NLI

Northeastern players line up for the starting lineups and national anthem for the Beanpot at the TD Garden in Boston. - Joshua Kummins

Michael Szmatula had asked to be released from his NLI with Northeastern to follow his junior coach to Denver. Jim Madigan has declined to do so.

Northeastern coach Jim Madigan has finally taken a stance against players bailing on their commitment to play for the Huskies hockey program. After seeing Johnny and Matt Gaudreau, Jon Gillies, Justin Kovacs, Mike McKee, Garrett Haar de-commit from Northeastern, Madigan put his foot down.

Madigan has chosen to not allow Dubuque Fighting Saints star forward Michael Szmatula out of his National Letter of Intent, according to Mike McMahon of College Hockey News.

Szmatula, a 20 year-old from Commerce, Mich., led the Fighting Saints in scoring with 37 goals and 39 assists for 76 points in 63 games played. He had committed to Northeastern in November after getting off to a hot start as an overage player in the USHL.

Szmatula's coach in Dubuque is new Denver coach Jim Montgomery. Szmatula saw his stock rise and wanted to follow Montgomery to the Mile High City. Now, if Szmatula still wants to play for Montgomery at Denver, he will have to sit out the 2013-14 season and forfeit a year of eligibility.

Szmatula could still end up at Northeastern, but one would have to wonder the likelihood of that occurring now that the player has expressed the desire to play elsewhere. How would teammates react to him and how would his relationship be with the coaching staff?

Szmatula would be a big loss for Northeastern if he does in fact choose to transfer. He was certainly the prized prospect in the Huskies recruiting class.

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

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