Nicolas Roy (right) with Eagles coach-GM Marc-Andre Dumont on draft day (Danielle Bradette, The Canadian Press …
Prior to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft on June 8, it was made crystal-clear that the desire was for first overall pick Nicolas Roy to play in his native Quebec instead of crossing over to the league's other solitude to join the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. It's almost like a repeat of how another player advised by Pat Brisson, Nathan MacKinnon, balked at moving from Nova Scotia to play for the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in 2011.
Eagles coach-GM Marc-André Dumont called their bluff/set himself up for a trade windfall by drafting Roy anyway, as you know. The latest indication is that the Roy camp has dug in.
His parents, both teachers, said their son would not do well studying by correspondence and they worry about his academic performance.
“For us it's better to go to the U.S.A. because we are about two hours from U.S.A. The school is better, the program is better. They have six or ten students by teacher,” said his father Nick Roy.
The Eagles maintain they have a strong academic and player development program. The team said it will do whatever it takes to bring Roy to Cape Breton.
“We have three academic advisers. These guys do a fantastic job to service our players and there are not a lot of teams that offer that," said general manager and coach Marc Andre Dumont. (CBC Nova Scotia)
Recruitment and retention was a major challenge for the Eagles under Dumont's predecessor, Pierre Roux. Failing to convince the Roys to cast their lot in Cape Breton could exacerbate the negative perception of the franchise. Even pulling out every stop might not come close to matching the quality of the educational experience Roy would get by crossing the Rubicon and decamping to an exclusive New England prep school for his 16-year-old season while defying Cape Breton to make a trade. That's probably what the elder Roy meant by the "go to the U.S.A." comment.
In 2011, Nathan MacKinnon's parents, as his mother Kathy put it some time after the fact, "weren't willing" to have their son be "the only English kid in a room taking correspondence courses" with Baie-Comeau. Now as then, there probably is some ulterior motive, but when a potential world-class player is still 16, education is not just about lip service. The Roys have options — in 2010, Montreal-area defenceman Michael Matheson made good on his vow to pursue the U.S. college hockey route rather than play in the Q — and they're going to use them.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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