January 12, 2018

The Curious Case of Cale Makar

One nice thing about a non-NHL Olympics is we don't have to wade through endless stories and debates about who did not make the team.

Granted, that's largely because we don't even know most of the players who did make the team. How would we possibly know who to argue would be better? In fact, I have not seen a single argument for a roster adjustment on Team Canada.

The only such possibility is the curious story of Cale Makar. Now it is a different story in that it was Makar that apparently turned down the roster spot.

Many of us were introduced to Makar in the past few months. Perhaps it was at the draft in June 2017 where the defenseman was selected 4th overall by the Colorado Avalanche. Or, more likely, it was this past Christmas where Makar impressed as a key member of Canada's gold medal winning World Juniors team.

The 19 year old from Calgary has raised some eyebrows by turning down an Olympic spot. After all, how often do you get a chance to represent your country, let alone at the Olympics? Old fogies like me would grab the kid by the shoulders, shake him and say "you can't turn down an opportunity like this. One day you'll regret it."

It's an interesting decision by the power play specialist. He has only played one semester at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He has missed a month of school in December committing to the World Juniors, and chose to pass on the Olympics to not miss any more school.

It is a tough for us to understand the decision. After all, he was the 4th overall pick and the Colorado Avalanche are thin on the blue line. It's not likely Makar will delay his NHL career and million dollar contract until graduation. While we all applaud the kid for pursuing education, he will likely have to complete his degree after a promising career as a professional hockey player.

But maybe that's why Makar passed on the Olympics. True, the Olympic opportunity may never come again. But Makar is just a kid, and this is his last opportunity to be a kid. Old fogies like me tell kids all the time that college life will be the best years of your life.

Makar's college experience will be truncated and different than most people's. He knows that and maybe he just wants to enjoy it while he can.

And that is good advice.

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