February 8, 2008 PRINT Bookmark and Share

The Trotter Mystery

by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor

So here we have another case where a college hockey player has been plucked away from his team in mid-season by an NHL club.

Or was he?

That's how it may look on the surface if you haven't been following the situation, complete with empty platitudes coming from Denver upon his departure. But Brock Trotter's mysterious disappearance from the Denver lineup, followed by him leaving school to sign an NHL contract, seems clearly to be a disciplinary case gone awry.

It seems Trotter did something to warrant him being bounced from the team. The fact that he wasn't at practice this week points to something egregious he did, and, given the latest news, we can speculate that perhaps it was made clear to him he wouldn't be welcomed back. His signing with Montreal — as opposed to the Okposo case — was therefore an opportune moment to save face.

Again, this is all speculation, but reading between the lines of all the pieces, it seems apparent. Denver coach George Gwozdecky has been largely mum, making comments of hollow praise upon Trotter's departure.

We've never known Gwozdecky to have a bunker mentality. He's not loose-lipped, and he's not careless with his comments, but he is as forthright as he can be in these circumstances. Though he never said, for example, what exactly Lukas Dora did to get himself suspended from the 2004 national championship game, Gwozdecky was open about discussing the issue in general.

So his tight-lipped stance on this one only adds to the mystery, and leads us to believe something major happened.

"It has been challenging without him, but I think him being able to accomplish one of his childhood dream of playing professional hockey provides [closure] for us," Gwozdecky told the Denver Post, while remaining vague. "Every single guy in our locker room is excited and proud for him, and I say that with all sincerity."

Gwozdecky further hinted that the situation has been going on three weeks. Again, reading between the lines, you have to suspect something has been festering, the school determined he couldn't play hockey anymore, and the team kept it as close to the vest as possible until Trotter could find a good hockey situation, so as to avoid embarrassing him as much as possible.

Unfortunately, it's become a season of the Bad Boys of College Hockey. It's quite unfortunate to be reminded of that again when we have a tremendous Miami-Michigan weekend to look forward to, and the postseason just around the corner.

There have been arrests and other disciplinary actions, more so than we can remember in any one season. The exact nature of any of these seemingly egregious offense has never come to light, which is just the way all the parties want it, except for the public, and our collective appetite for salacious celebrity gossip.

But we also want to know, because we want to know whether all of this is getting out of hand.

First we had Brett Motherwell and Brian O'Hanley getting suspended for doing something really, really bad at Boston College. Next thing we knew, Motherwell was off the pros. O'Hanley is lingering around ... somewhere.

Four Boston University players were reprimanded, with one being stripped of his captaincy, later to be reinstated.

Freshman defenseman Kevin Quick at Michigan was recently dismissed from the team, with coach Red Berenson indicating simply that it was a really, really bad thing.

Former Gopher Nate Hagemo was arrested on charges of possessing drugs and drug paraphernalia.

CC players were suspended for a blackface incident. Later, more CC players — Cody Lampl and Derek Patrosso — were suspended for lengthy periods of time for ... something, again, really, really bad that's "undisclosed."

Vermont's Jonathan Higgins was suspended for six games after court charges were brought against him for stealing a bicycle. Patrick Cullity, a sophomore defenseman, was also suspended one game for an unspecified violation of the school's code of conduct for student-athletes.

Maine's Tanner House was charged with unlawfully "touching" a female in a bar ... those charges were later dropped.

T.J. Oshie of North Dakota and Mike Radja of New Hampshire were both suspended after arrests made at Oshie's apartment. Oshie had already been in trouble with the law before.

Players from each of the four major leagues have been suspended for on-ice incidents.

We've had two major foul-ups by WCHA referees, leading to a suspension.

We've had a coach get suspended for flipping off a referee. Of course, this was another PR move. North Dakota officials said that their coaches should be held to a standard where vulgarity is not acceptable. My gosh — you'd have to suspend just about every coach in every sport in the NCAA. Hakstol just got caught on camera. Then again, if you read lips, these guys are caught on camera yelling obscenities all the time. But whatever.

We've had brawls at the end of games.

Of course, the Okposo situation reeked on a completely different level.

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