On Monday, the general manager of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets made it clear that they did not attempt to sway former Eagles recruit Sonny Milano into going pro.
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This past weekend, Milano, a first-round NHL draft pick who was regarded as Boston College’s top recruit, changed his mind and decided to bypass college and head for the OHL, en route to the National Hockey League.
Just twelve days earlier while in Lake Placid, Sonny Milano reaffirmed his commitment to Boston College for the Fall, stating in essence that the rumors were just talk and that going to college was in his view the “best way” to make it into the NHL.
Quoth Jarmo Kekalainen, Columbus’s general manager:
"We have the same kind of respect for Plymouth and their ability to develop players [as Boston College] … which is why we didn’t get involved in (Milano’s) decision. We left it up to the kid from the get-go.Blue Jackets say they didn’t push Milano to choose OHL over Boston College (Pro Hockey Talk, James O’Brien)"
If there was no pressure involved from the organization, then that is a stunning reversal to take place in less than two weeks time. Maybe Kekalainen is right and the Blue Jackets did not pressure Milano; perhaps his family and friends did, or perhaps Milano really did change his mind on his own.
If you take him at his own word, the latter is how Milano sees it. Apropos of nothing, but Milano’s statement reminded me of chats I have had with exes when they talk about “not knowing what they want anymore.” It happens.
Sonny Milano does also have a bit of a history with changing his mind. If you will recall, he decommitted from Notre Dame in November and joined with the Eagles, holding firm on the college route — until he didn’t.
Milano and all players with professional aspirations have the right to do what is best for themselves. That does not mean everyone will smile favorably upon the decisions made, but Milano acted according to his wishes and we all must respect it. Some, however, feel like the switch opened a bit of a rift between the Eagles and Blue Jackets.
The Columbus front office seemed to take umbrage at the part where Jerry York said this weekend that the Blue Jackets would “dictate his path” as he gears up to play professional hockey. According to that piece, it sounds like they interpreted York as saying “Columbus told Sonny Milano what to do,” but it could more easily be read as “Columbus will tell Sonny Milano what to do from now on, because that’s what pro teams usually do with their prospects.”
At the end of the day, it’s all moot, because Sonny Milano is there and not here, but it is interesting that Columbus felt the need to have to deny twisting Milano’s arm. Maybe not because they thought Jerry York suggested it, but because it was the logical thing for most people to assume. Ultimately, there is no controversy here.