As alternative choices to high school hockey and community-based programs continue to present themselves, it is more important than ever for high school coaches to understand the facts and success stories about the development of hockey players. The reality is, Minnesota not only has the best development model in the country, but it is the best choice for the developing athlete in their quest to maximize their potential.
While the noise of the “early departures” can be deafening, and a little disheartening, our coaching community is working hard to protect and preserve our model that has produced so many elite high school, junior, collegiate and professional players.
The MHCA’s “Nothing Compares” campaign has been in place for nearly a decade, and has been successful in celebrating the high school game, our athletes and those players who graduated from high school and gone on to do great things at the highest levels of our game.
You will notice Anders Lee on the back cover of the state tournament issue of “Let’s Play Hockey”. Lee was a three sport athlete before graduating at Edina High School. In addition, Brock Nelson of Warroad High School is featured in the state tournament program. You can see other highlighted athletes as part of the “Nothing Compares” program here.
As a representative of the MSHSL coaching fraternity this week at the state tournament, please consider the following in your conversations with parents, colleagues and members of the media:
Also consider the Minnesota impact in college hockey:
Division I Men’s Players:
Minnesota - 203
Michigan - 151
Massachusetts - 112
New York - 81
Pennsylvania - 52
New Jersey - 52
Minnesota produces 12.7% of all Division I men’s hockey players and 18.7% of all Americans playing Division I men’s hockey. Despite the growth of hockey in non‐traditional areas, the number of Minnesotans playing Division I men’s hockey is actually growing – an increase of 11% from last season (183).
Although there may be a vocal minority who continue to promote the idea of leaving high school for green pastures, the numbers don’t lie. As coaches representing the high school game it’s important to note that high school hockey graduates are having unprecedented success. We need to keep improving our individual programs, work for the betterment of all and work with the understanding that the talent pendulum is always swinging. Stay true to your calling and keep working to improve the best model in the country.
The 23 NHL stars below, and thousands of other players, have all decided to stay home and play four years of high school hockey in front of their hometown crowds. These players feel strongly that their high school hockey experience did more to prepare them for the next level than any of the other options. These players believed that they had had a special opportunity to stay home and LEAVE A LEGACY!
Graduated from Benilde-St. Margaret’s High School in 1999. Scored the key goal to become the 1999 state champions. Two-Time All Conference.
“…finish your high school career — it was by far my most memorable experience … going to the state tournament and actually winning it was better than I could have ever imagined.”
Graduated from Spring Lake Park High School in 2002. Three Times All-Conference, All-State, and a Mr. Hockey Finalist. Spring Lake Park’s All Time Assist Leader, and 2nd in Career Points.
“I am eight years removed from high school now, and I’m still hanging around with the guys I played with at Spring Lake Park.”
Graduated from White Bear Lake High School in 2005. Three years of varsity hockey, including state Class 2A appearances in 2003 and 2005 when the Bears won consolation titles.
". . . my senior year I had my that I'd played with for a long time. And with my family behind me, it was really fun."
Graduated from White Bear Lake High School in 2002. All-State, Mr Hockey Finalist 2002. Lettered in Football and Track.
“I remember the rivalries. Playing Hill-Murray, we always hated each other and the games were always more than talked up. There was an emotion attached to those games that I haven’t really had since.”
Graduated from Moorhead High School in 1995. Three state tournament appearances and three all-state tournament team selections. AP Player of the Year and Mr. Hockey finalist as a senior. Second-round NHL Draft selection by the Anaheim Ducks. 3.9 GPA.
"I think it's important in every player's development to be the main man, the go-to guy and the guy that's on the ice all the time and counted on in big situations."
Graduated from Minnetonka High School in 2008. Metro Player of the Year, All-State, Mr. Hockey Finalist.
"It's been awesome, every step of the way. I still wish I could be in high school again, and do it all over again, because those were some of the best days of my life."
Graduated from Bloomington Jefferson High School in 2001. 3 years varsity hockey, 2 years All-Conference, Captain, Mr. Hockey finalist. In Baseball, 2 years varsity, senior captain and All-Conference. School Athlete of the Year 2001.
"My senior year was about the opportunity to play with my buddies. It was the best time. Those are friendships that last forever."
Graduated from Grand Rapids High School in 2004. Honorable mention All State as a junior. All-State and Mr. Hockey finalist as a senior. Second-round NHL draft selection for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Two-year letterwinner in baseball.
"I wanted to stay in high school and play with all my friends growing up and play my senior year and be home one last year. I really can't imagine doing it any other way."
Graduated from Blaine High School in 2000. All-State, State Champion, and Mr. Hockey Finalist. Quarterback in Football and Catcher in Baseball.
"Winning the 2000 state title is right there in top three things I've done in hockey ... I can go back to the exact day we won, and all the memories I had before that watching (the state tournament) as a kid."
Graduated from Holy Angels High School in 2004. Four-year letterwinner, three state tournament appearances, including a state championship in 2002. All-State selection and Mr. Hockey finalist as a senior. Career leading scorer among defensemen at Holy Angels. Two years all-conference in golf and an honor roll student.
"I wouldn't trade those four years for anything in the world. ... people would always tell me that I'd think back on my four years of high school and absolutely love it -- and that' s so true."
Graduated from Park Center High School in 2000. Two time All-Conference selection, First team All-State 2000. Mr. Hockey finalist.
"I had to choose, and I chose my friends ... I wanted to come back, and I was glad that I did."
Graduated from Eden Prairie High School in 2009. All State, State Champion, Mr. Hockey. 1st round NHL draft choice.
"There's something special about playing high school hockey. The atmosphere is always good and it's always fun."
Graduated from Edina High School in 2009. All-State twice, Mr. Hockey finalist, five state tournament appearances, lettered in football and track.
"The coolest part is playing for your school, the community. Those big rivalry games, they fill up the stands ... Those are the games ... the memories that you always have."
Graduated from Moorhead High School in 2005. Two-year letterwinner in golf, two-time All-State hockey selection, three state Class AA tournament appearances, 2005 Mr. Hockey and AP Player of the Year, first-round NHL draft choice by the Ottawa Senators.
"You can't explain in words how awesome it is to throw on your hometown jersey and play in the state tournament in front of your buddies and your family at the Xcel Energy Center."
Graduated from Apple Valley High School in 2003. Metro Player of the Year, AP Hockey Player of the Year, Mr. Hockey finalist.
"I can remember playing big street hockey games as a junior, senior in high school, just for the fun of it ... just the love for the game."
Graduated from Elk River High School in 2000. All-State Hockey, 1999 State Hockey Tournament, 2000 Mr. Hockey, 2000 State Baseball Tournament.
“I chose to stay at Elk River with my friends and teammates … the most memorable moments were the State Hockey Tournament and the State Baseball Tournament.”
Graduated from Cretin-Derham Hall High School in 2007. All Metro and All State as a senior, Mr. Hockey 2007. State Champion in Hockey and Baseball.
"There was no way I was leaving, I wouldn't trade that decision for anything ... being able to graduate and be home with my family for one more year was perfect for me."
Graduated from Warroad High School in 2010. Three years varsity hockey. Mr. Hockey finalist. Scored 111 career goals. Scored the game-winning goal in triple overtime in 2009 state Class A third-place game.
". . . just getting there (to the state tournaments) from a small school were amazing . . . and to have the whole town follow on the six-hour drive made it that much better . . . the Xcel was just crazy."
Graduated from Virginia High School in 2005. All-State, Mr. Hockey Finalist, 2005 State Hockey Tournament, All-State in Football, 2004 State Football Tournament.
“Playing with my friends, playing three sports, and playing in front of my hometown were the biggest reasons for finishing my senior year with my team.”
Graduated from Warroad High School in 2005. All-State, Mr. Hockey Finalist, Three Time State Hockey Tournament Participant and Two Time Champion in 2003 and 2005.
“I will never forget my teammates from high school. We would just hang out in the locker room for two hours after practice.”
"Sochi" Oshie was the U.S. Olympic Shootout star versus the Russians. He stayed his senior year to lead Class A Warroad High School to the state championship.
Graduated from Bloomington Jefferson High School in 1996. All State, state champion.
"Stepping on the [Civic Center] ice and seeing 17, 18,000 people up there ... With the band playing, you've got the student section at each end, it was such a great experience."
Graduated from Moorhead High School in 2005. Three state tournament appearances, team MVP, All-State, All-Tournament and a Mr. Hockey finalist. Fourth round NHL draft choice for Edmonton, two-year letterwinner in football and baseball.
"I think I became more of a leader that year and as a forward, the team was kind of looking to me. It was one of the best years of my life."
Graduate from The Blake School in 2004. Leading scorer, Mr. Hockey finalist.
"Being from Minnesota, you start playing hockey at such a young age, 4 and 5, and it's your friends and your buddies, and I think that's the core."