Brenden Kichton - Islander Hostage Of NHLPA

 

The impending NHL lockout will leave dozens of victims in each of the thirty cities it now operates. Many hundreds of people and their families will be forced to struggle to make ends meet after losing the minimum wage they would normally receive working their second or third part-time jobs at arenas across North America.

Collateral damage/replaceable parts for a machine that generates billions of dollars in revenue every year.

Unnoticed will be the damage done to the promising careers of young players due to make their starts as professionals such as Islander prospect Brenden Kichton.

(Photo: Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)

Kichton has all the look of being another of Garth Snow’s many late round selections that makes it in the NHL. Like Andrew McDonald (6th round 2006) and Matt Martin (5th round 2008) before him, Kichton went overlooked by many before being selected by the Isles in the 5th round of the 2011 draft.

As a sixteen year old the Spruce Grove, Alberta native joined the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL. In his first two years as a Chief his ice time was limited while he developed and watched older players get the prime assignments. Draft eligible in 2010, Brenden went unselected.

His third year was truly a breakout year for the then 18 year old blue-liner. In 64 games he scored 23 goals, assisted on 58 more and played to an amazing plus 55. His 2011-12 season showed the previous year was not a fluke as he netted 17 goals and dished out  57 assists. Decent numbers for a forward exceptional for a defenseman. 

He probably would have arrived in Bridgeport after his WHL season had ended last April if not for an injury. Kichton’s jaw was broken after being hit by a puck in the third period of the Chiefs’ WHL playoff opener in Vancouver.

Six-weeks with his jaw wired shut and two to three months before contact could be allowed, he would have been ready to report to the Islanders training camp this September for probable assignment to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. That is what would have happened in a normal year, this year is far from normal.

It is very likely that teams across the NHL will be cancelling training camps in the very near future. If not canceled facilities will be limited.

In a normal year, Kichton’s NHL Entry Level Contract (ELC) would have already passed from negotiation to signing. This year negotiations have yet to begin.

Several weeks after multi-year, multi-million dollar contracts were being handed out like Hershey Bars on Halloween, seventy-thousand dollar a year ELC’s are being withheld while meetings in Toronto and New York drag on to the inevitable.

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers and the rest of the AHL will begin the 2012-13 season on time and play it through without interruption. However, with NHL ready players such as David Ullstrom, Casey Cizikas, Matt Donovan, Calvin deHaan and others likely to be sent back to Bridgeport, there will be no room for Kichton and dozens of other talented players like him in the AHL.

Instead of enjoying the well deserved rewards of their first professional contracts, Brenden and his brethren will return to their CHL teams for the fifty dollars a week they are paid under the current agreement the CHL has with its’ players. (Bruce Ciskie – NHL contributor to SB Nation, has an excellent piece on the CHLPA).

Kichton, and too many other talented players, will have their dreams of playing at the top level put on hold. But until the cigars are lit by the billionaires holding hockey hostage and an agreement with the players association is reached, they will be collateral damage of the Bettman dynasty.

The replaceable parts in the board game being played will be the fans whose love of the game of hockey pays all the bills.

The game isn't being played, and it should be. Pink slips by the thousands are being issued, and they shouldn't be.

The fans who provide the monies being argued about and the players that generate that flow of income are locked out.

Players and fans share a love of the game that the owners have forgotten. As Brett Hull alluded to in a portion of his NHL Hall Of Fame induction speech, it is all about what the game gives to us:

"I accept this honor for all those playing pickup, beer league and senior hockey, who never got the opportunity that I did.  For every mom who drives to practice, and every dad working overtime to buy equipment and a pair of tickets to take his kids to an NHL game. Every teammate that sacrificed, every trainer that patched me up and every stick boy that brought me a cold one after the game.  We're suppose to be here celebrating what I did in this game.  But I want to talk about what this game gave to me.  That's everything, and more than I could ever dream of."

-Mike Flannery

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