Saturday, October 01, 2005

The 18-year-old club

A lot is being made of two 18-year-olds so far in preseason: Sidney Crosby and Montreal Canadien's forward Guillaume Latendresse. One guy out of junior we haven't heard a ton about (at least out East), however, is Canucks' defenceman Luc Bourdon.

Tom Benjamin talked a little about Bourdon recently, and how he would be held back from the club even if he deserved to be the team's final defenceman. The Globe and Mail ran this Grant Kerr story today on Bourdon, however, and in it, management neglects to tip their hand as to where he's headed.
"I think Luc has shown he's probably capable of handling the strength issue in the NHL," assistant general manager Steve Tambellini said. "But the demands on a player in September are much different than the demands a coach puts on a player in January and February.

"History tells you it's probably not the right thing to do. But there will always be situations when the kid is ready, and away you go. We want to see Luc play some more before making a final decision for this season."

Benjamin is probably right in saying Bourdon will be sent down, but is that the wrong move? How many 18-year-old defencemen have been able to make a significant contribution in the NHL in the past 10-15 years? Not many.

As Tambellini says, history dictates it's probably not a good idea to take a kid out of junior and put him right into the NHL. That answer is good enough for me.



At 12:50 a.m., October 02, 2005, Blogger The Puck Stops Here said...

I would argue that history shows that on average, the earlier a player gets to the NHL then better the player he eventually becomes.

Even in the case when the rookie year isn't too great, like Joe Thornton, he develops because he is pushed faster at a younger age then he would be in junior


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