Wed Jul 20 11:46am EDT
It looks like playing 20 minutes in an exhibition game for the Western Hockey League's Portland Winterhawks will not only cost goaltender Julien Laplante an opportunity to play for Union College, but also a year of his NCAA eligibility.
For those of you who missed Laplante's story last week...
First-year Union head coach Rick Bennett said Wednesday that Laplante won't be tending goal ever for the Dutchmen. Bennett discovered that Laplante played a period for the Western Hockey League's Portland Winter Hawks [sic] a few years ago. That is in violation of NCAA rules because players who are in Canadian major junior hockey are paid. The Winter Hawks held Laplante's Canadian Hockey League rights.
When contacted by Yahoo! Sports last week, Bennett declined an interview request saying: "at this time I have no comment."
Though he eventually went on to explain his decision to Schott:
"I found through a second party that he had 20 minutes of major junior," Bennett said. "When I called the player about it, he confirmed that he played 20 minutes of an exhibition game. I said that's not how we run the program, and that was it."
That's not how we run the program? Seriously? The kid played 20 minutes in an exhibition game years ago -- it's not like he did something really horrible, like accepted a free breakfast.
At any rate, Laplante has now found a spot with Providence College though he will have to sit out a full season and will only have three years of eligibility as punishment for playing 20 minutes of quasi-Major Junior hockey.
Thanks to those ironclad NCAA rules, that's the amount of time it takes one to become sullied by either playing against "professional" athletes or becoming one yourself.
That's all the time it takes for a sixth-round bantam pick (105th overall) to reap the tens of dollars available weekly to live that lavish Canadian Hockey League lifestyle ... in an exhibition game.
According to one OHL general manager, it's highly unlikely Laplante would have even received payment for his 20 minutes of pre-season work.
Regardless, the onus should be on the player and adviser to make sure they know the rules before heading into any CHL camp. As far as the NCAA is concerned, playing in an intrasquad game is fine, but an exhibition game is still considered official by their standards -- even if you haven't signed with a CHL team.
A lesson Julien Laplante has learned the hard way and will have an entire hockey season to think about.