Montreal Canadiens prospect Louis Leblanc leaves Harvard to advance hockey career

Thumbnail image for 1-leblanc.jpgAs 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.

Kassian suspended without pay, placed in Stage 2 of Substance Abuse Program

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Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.

The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.

According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”

Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:

The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.

Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.

In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two:

Add Lecavalier to list of expensive Flyers healthy scratches

Vincent Lecavalier

Are the Philadelphia Flyers aiming for some sort of record when it comes to expensive (potential) healthy scratches?

While lineups are obviously subject to change, notes that Vincent Lecavalier appears to be among a rather rich group of Flyers who are expected to sit during their season-opener.

Also likely to be in street clothes: Sam Gagner and Luke Schenn.

That’s $11.3 million in cap space rotting on the bench.

“I really don’t know what to say,” Lecavalier said. “I’ll practice hard and be ready when they call me up.”

The quotes from Lecavalier, Gagner and Schenn only get sadder from there, a reminder that there are human beings attached to these numbers – whether you focus on disappointing stats or bloated salaries.

Flyers fans with the urge to reach for an Alka-Setzler can at least take some comfort in knowing that the team will see $6.8 million in savings after this season, as both Gagner and Schenn are on expiring deals.

It could be a long season, though, and this Lecavalier headache may not truly end until his contract expires following the 2017-18 campaign.