A turbulent three-week span has reached its apparent conclusion as the University of Wisconsin’s suspended freshman forward Nicolas Kerdiles announced he will be staying in school at a press conference today. The talented Anaheim Ducks prospect will have to sit out games until Nov. 30 due to an amateurism violation and had the option of leaving to sign with the Western Hockey League’s Kelowna Rockets.
The announcement confirms the scoop that the Wisconsin State Journal’s Andy Baggot got Sunday from Anaheim’s senior vice president David McNab, who said that Kerdiles was staying in school with the full support of the Ducks organization.
Kerdiles, very composed and mature during his statement to the press, said there “was never a doubt” that he would return to Wisconsin. The native of Irvine, Calif., said he wants to be a role model for players from Southern California and show why they should consider playing college hockey.
The fact that Kerdiles is staying in the face of what appears to be a heavy-handed ruling from the NCAA is pretty huge for Wisconsin. Coming off an opening-weekend sweep at the hands of Northern Michigan, where offense was hard to come by, a player with real scoring talent will come in handy.
Coach Mike Eaves said he hopes Kerdiles brings “a lot of goals” to the lineup when he returns and should have a positive impact on the team when he steps on the ice.
The Badgers will have to weather the storm without their prized recruit for four more weeks. During that span, UW will play a host of WCHA opponents starting with a tough road series at Minnesota Duluth, Colorado College at home, Minnesota in Minneapolis and finally Minnesota State at home. Kerdiles will be back for the series against Denver starting Nov. 30.
While four weeks of no games doesn’t exactly help Kerdiles in the development department, it’s not a long enough stretch to warrant a major change of scenery. Kerdiles committed to the Badgers at age 15, coming out of the LA Selects program. After two years at the National Team Development Program where Kerdiles starred, he was selected 36th overall by the Ducks. He turned down overtures from Kelowna on multiple occasions and despite this hiccup, remains committed.
This issue will put a lot more scrutiny on the roles of family advisors, as the violations were born out of suspicion that the relationship between Kerdiles and advisor Ian Pulver was bordering on the inappropriate in the NCAA’s eyes.
Eaves said in the presser that he believes this situation will bring more “attention to detail” to family advisors, citing that families and advisors will have to be diligent. He also believes the issue with Kerdiles was more of a test case from the NCAA, which I completely agree with. The NCAA dug deep enough and found something, no matter how small it ended up being, and pounced. It reeks of opportunism.
Kerdiles said he still believes his family followed the rules as they knew them.
Now Kerdiles and his family can put this in the rear view and the only focus will be on hockey and school from here on out. While the punishment still seems ill fitting of the alleged “crime,” Kerdiles will still get his wish. He’ll still be a Badger.
It’s somewhat refreshing that in spite of roadblocks imposed by the NCAA that a player who had every reason to leave decided to stay. College hockey, the Wisconsin Badgers and probably even Nic Kerdiles will be better for it.