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'Ghost' never had a chance

Friday, April 4, 2014
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Shayne Gostisbehere has no one to blame but himself for not being named to the Hobey Hat Trick.

And I mean that in a good way.

It would’ve been an enormous boost to Union College if their junior defenseman had been voted as one of three finalists out of a group of 10 for the Hobey Baker Award.

No one expects anyone but Boston College’s Johnny Gaudreau to win college hockey’s version of the Heisman Trophy, hands down. Just give it to the kid, already.

But making the award ceremony next Friday in Philadelphia, where Gostisbehere could very well be playing in the NHL next season, would’ve cast a deserved and useful spotlight not only on the Dutchmen’s best player, but also on the program as a whole. This is recruiting gold.

While conceding the Award itself to Gaudreau, Union and its burgeoning hockey powerhouse really wanted this Hobey Hat Trick, Gostisbehere’s persistent attempts to deflect attention from himself all season notwithstanding.

The 27-member Hobey Baker selection committee got it all wrong by not voting him into the Hat Trick, but the “geographically balanced” collection of media, college coaches and officals and NHL scouts did at least demonstrate some consistency in how they do their job.

Defensemen almost always are on the outside looking in, and in fact, Gostisbehere was the only blueliner to make the final 10, then voted down to three by 59 Division I coaches. Only six defensemen and two goalies — Ryan Miller and Robb Stauber — have won the Hobey Baker in 33 years, so it’s clearly targeting offense, not unlike the Heisman.

That said, Gostisbehere was the best player on the top-ranked team in the country, even if his numbers — eight goals and 21 assists — were respectable, but not overwhelming.

What gets lost in the voting process is the fact that Gostisbehere has the breath-taking talent to put up the kind of numbers that would sway a selection committee, and chose not to go that route.

I’m not saying Gostisbehere shunned offensive contribution and production. On the contrary, his speed, breakout ability and willingness to jump into the offense is one of the most important signatures of this team. He set a school record for shots by a defenseman while also being named co-defensive defenseman in the ECAC.

But over the course of three seasons, he has become increasingly selective in how and when he rushes, which has made him by far an overall better and and more valuable player than his “Renegade” days as a freshman. Anyway, missing out on the Hat Trick is not the worst thing in the world. The Dutchmen don’t mind the underdog label, and Gostisbehere has the maturity to find the right balance between using the Hobey snub as motivation without overdoing it.

 
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