As Joe speculated in June, Montreal Canadiens 2009 first round draft pick Louis Leblanc will leave Harvard University early to continue his hockey career. ESPN Boston’s Jimmy Murphy reports that the team signed Leblanc to a three-year contract. Jeff Marek notes that the prestigious university will lose Leblanc to the Montreal Juniors of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (or QMJHL).
According to Joe’s post, Sidney Crosby’s agent Pat Brisson might have acted as Leblanc’s “adviser” during some of this process and apparently they decided that leaving school would benefit Leblanc’s career. Joe explains why this case is both familiar and special.
These kinds of things happen all the time with players leaving NCAA teams to join Canadian major-junior programs, it just happens that in this case, Leblanc is a Habs draft pick and he’s leaving freaking Harvard. It’s not as if Harvard is a major hockey school here. Their fan support is lacking and they haven’t resembled a powerhouse in ages. That said, it’s still Harvard the academic institution and Leblanc is getting what amounts to a free ride to go to one of the best universities in the world. So why would Leblanc potentially give that up? If you guessed “money” your answer could be right.
It’s unfair to claim that Leblanc doesn’t value his education just because he’s leaving the school, but it’s hard to avoid being at least a little cynical about it. Perhaps you could make the argument that someone can go to school at any age, but you can only play hockey for a finite amount of time. Ultimately, though, I get the same feeling I do when I read about the McCourt family’s ugly divorce and its effects on the Los Angeles Dodgers. At some point my mind just goes blank and reads “Rich People Problems” in big red letters.
Good luck to Leblanc. You have to wonder if he’ll regret – or just as likely admire – his decision when he’s old and gray.